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Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun: Australia to process United Nations refugee referral

11 January 2019

The Tweet read, '18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun fled Saudi Arabia as she said her family would kill her for choosing to leave Islam - do you respect her decision?'

"Canada has been unequivocal that we'll stand up for human rights and women's rights around the world", Trudeau said.

A Saudi woman has been given refugee status by the United Nations and is being considered for resettlement by the Australian government.

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

The woman, who said her passport was seized after being stopped at an airport in Bangkok on Saturday, had barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and launched a social media campaign, drawing attention from around the world.

"I think the most important thing is a young woman in these very very hard circumstances is supported appropriately through the United Nations processes and that countries like Australia who are in a position potentially to provide her with support are able to work from that point once those are finalised and determine what the next steps are", Ms Payne said.

"Canada has granted her asylum".

Qunun has refused to meet with her father, who arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday.

She soon started posting messages on Twitter from the transit area of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport saying she had "escaped Kuwait" and her life would be in danger if forced to return to Saudi Arabia.

"Shorten did write to the prime minister on Tuesday indicating that if she had a valid claim we support their efforts to offer her settlement in Australia".

She raised Australia's concerns with Thai officials about Hakeem al-Araibi, a 25-year-old former member of Bahrain's national soccer team who was granted refugee status in Australia in 2017 after fleeing his homeland, where he said he was persecuted and tortured.

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

A Korean Air flight carrying Qunun left Bangkok for Seoul on Friday night at 11:37 p.m. Bangkok time, an airport official told Reuters.

Her Twitter account gained more than 100,000 followers over six days but the teenager reportedly suspended her profile on Friday after receiving "some very nasty, very real death threats".

"Refugee protection today is often under threat and can not always be assured, but in this instance worldwide refugee law and overriding values of humanity have prevailed", UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement.

The office of Canada's foreign minister however, said it could not confirm that asylum had been granted. Dina Ali Lasloom ran away from her family after she was abused. In downtown Sydney on Thursday, four women dressed in jeans and calling themselves the Secret Sisterhood held a topless protest outside the building housing the Saudi Consulate, calling on Australia to grant Alqunun residency.

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

Qunun's Twitter account was no longer active on Friday.

He described the man as being a governor in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun: Australia to process United Nations refugee referral