You are here: Home » PTI Stories » National » News
Business Standard

UNHCR examining Saudi woman's asylum bid as family due in Bangkok

AFP  |  Bangkok 

The asylum claim of a Saudi woman who resisted from will take several days to assess, the UN said Tuesday, as the 18-year-old's family, who she accuses of abusing her, was due to arrive in

arrived at Bangkok's main airport on a flight from after running away from her family, who she alleges subjected her to physical and psychological abuse.

Qunun said she planned to seek asylum in Australia, fearing she would be killed if sent back by Thai officials who stopped her at the airport on Sunday. Saudi Arabia's human rights record has been under heavy scrutiny since the murder of last year.

Initially, Thai authorities said Qunun would be sent back to But as her plight pinballed across - including tweets about how she had barricaded herself in a hotel room - they abruptly changed course and allowed her to leave the airport Monday in the care of the UN's refugee agency.

The UNHCR said it was "very grateful" officials did not send Qunun back against her will.

"It could take several days to process the case and determine next steps," the UNHCR in Thailand, Giuseppe de Vicentiis, said in a statement.

is not a signatory to a UN convention on refugees, and asylum seekers are typically deported or wait years to be resettled in third countries.

The UNHCR insists anyone with an asylum claim should not be sent back to the country they fled under the principle of non-refoulement.

In a short press release distributed to media outside their embassy in Tuesday, the said it had not demanded her deportation, adding the case is a "family affair", but under the "care and attention" of the embassy.

In an earlier and separate explanation released on Twitter, the embassy also denied sending officials to to meet Qunun as she arrived via or impounding her passport - as she alleged.

It also said the embassy had made contact with her father, a in the kingdom, "to inform him on her situation".

Thai chief told reporters that Qunun's father and brother were due in later on Tuesday.

He said he would talk to about the potential of a meeting between the family members.

"Rahaf is not a political asylum case," he insisted. "It is not political at all." Ultra-conservative has some of the world's toughest restrictions on women, including a guardianship system that allows male family members to make decisions on behalf of female relatives.

Qunun has said she believes she will be imprisoned or killed if sent back, and that her family is so strict it once locked her in a room for six months for cutting her hair.

Under the hashtag #SaveRahaf, the young woman's desperate pleas became a sensation, and she was able to post live updates and videos from the airport in both Arabic and English, racking up more than 80,000 followers.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, January 08 2019. 15:00 IST