Canada open to receiving Saudi woman fleeing family, officials confirm
|CTVnews 09 Jan 2019 at 12:40|
Canada has signalled it would be open to receiving a Saudi woman who barricaded herself inside a Bangkok hotel room, government officials have confirmed to CTV News.
Canadian authorities, in behind-the-scenes conversations, have indicated they would be open to taking in Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who fled her family and renounced Islam, which is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.
After the 18-year-old refused to board a flight from the Thai capital to Kuwait on Monday, she barricaded herself into an airport hotel room.
The United Nations refugee agency has declared the teenager is a legitimate refugee.
"I was told by UNHCR that there are several countries (offering asylum) but we can t be rushed, Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn, head of Thai Immigration Police, told reporters at a press conference.
It will take at least a couple of days. We have to allow UNHCR to follow through with their procedures."
The teen has previously asked Canada for help via her Twitter account.
Australia is also considering resettling the woman, who arrived in Bangkok on a flight from Kuwait on Saturday, and planned to continue to Australia, where she held a tourist visa.
Al-Qunun s father has denied physically abusing her or trying to force her into an arranged marriage. Those claims were among the reasons she gave for fleeing, Thailand s Immigration Police chief said after meeting him Wednesday.
The father, whose name was not released and who was not seen by reporters, said he wants his daughter back but respects her decision, police Maj. Gen. Hakparn said.
Chief of Immigration Police Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn, right, walks with Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun before leaving the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on Jan. 7, 2019. (Immigration police via AP)