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Canada emerges as potential new home for Saudi refugee despite Australia’s willingness to fast-track her application 

Canada has emerged as a potential new home for Saudi refugee Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun despite Australia’s willingness to fast-track her application. 

Several countries including Australia had been in talks with the U.N. refugee agency to accept Ms al-Qunun who fled alleged abuse from her family.  

Despite reports the 18-year-old was heading to Australia, it appears she may be headed to Canada after the UNHCR withdrew its referral, The Australian reported. 

But according to UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards, the organisation cannot confirm at this stage whether it has in deed withdrawn its referral to Australia.

Canada has emerged as a potential new home for Saudi refugee Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun despite Australia’s willingness to fast-track her application.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun (pictured) has reacted to news Australia is considering granting her asylum, saying, 'Is it true??? Australia wants me to go there??? I'm so happy' 

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun (pictured) has reacted to news Australia is considering granting her asylum, saying, ‘Is it true??? Australia wants me to go there??? I’m so happy’ 

Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne met with senior Thai officials in Bangkok, where Ms al-Qunun is currently located, on Thursday. 

Ms Payne later told reporters that Australia was assessing al-Qunun’s request for resettlement, but there was no specific timeframe.

Thailand’s immigration police chief, Surachate Hakparn, told reporters the U.N. was accelerating the case, though he gave no indication of when the process would be complete. 

Despite having harnessed the power of Twitter to stave off deportation on Friday, she abruptly suspended her account, with friends saying she had received death threats. 

Thai authorities had initially threatened to deport her after she arrived in Bangkok from Kuwait last weekend.

Armed with a smartphone, she hastily opened Twitter account and forced a U-turn from Thai immigration police who handed her into the care of the UN’s refugee agency as the #SaveRahaf hashtag case bounced across the world.

On Friday afternoon she posted a final cryptic tweet on her profile saying ‘I have some good news and some bad news’ – shortly after her account was deactivated. 

Ms al-Qunun, pictured at Bangkok airport, ran away from a family trip to Kuwait last week and flew to Thailand in the hope of reaching Australia on a tourist visa

Ms al-Qunun, pictured at Bangkok airport, ran away from a family trip to Kuwait last week and flew to Thailand in the hope of reaching Australia on a tourist visa

Her tweet garnered plenty of reactions on social media, who specualted the reasons for the account deactivation.  

‘Rahaf received death threats and for this reason she closed her Twitter account, please save Rahaf life,’ @nourahfa313 wrote.  

‘I understand that there have been death threats against her but I don’t know the details,’ said Phil Robertson from Human Rights Watch.

The 18-year-old’s swift use of Twitter saw her amass more than 100,000 followers within a week, highlighting her plight and allowing her to avoid the fate of countless other refugees who are quietly sent back home or languish in detention centres.

Though her asylum case has moved at lightning speed, the mystery over which country will accept Ms al-Qunun remains.

Australia seemed the likely destination until news of the UNHCR withdrawing its referral.

The 18-year-old was detained in Thailand following her arrival in the country. She is pictured having barricaded herself in an airport hotel room  in a bid to avoid deportation

The 18-year-old was detained in Thailand following her arrival in the country. She is pictured having barricaded herself in an airport hotel room in a bid to avoid deportation

The 18-year-old was stopped at a Bangkok airport on Saturday by Thai immigration police who denied her entry and seized her passport. 

She made headlines earlier this week after she began tweeting from the transit area of Bangkok airport, saying her life would be in danger if she returned to Kuwait.  

Within hours, she amassed a huge following on Twitter as she refused to board a flight back the conservative kingdom and barricaded herself inside a hotel room.

Thai authorities eventually allowed her to enter the country on Monday evening and the UN refugee agency referred Rahaf to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees eventually granted her refugee status on Wednesday.

Ms al-Qunun had said on her Twitter account that she wishes to seek refuge in Australia. 

She has claimed her family would kill her if she were sent home to Saudi Arabia, where she has renounced Islam and ‘rebelled’ against her father. 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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