‘Brave new Canadian:’ Saudi woman fleeing family arrivesrgr

Australia Considering Resettlement for Fleeing Saudi Woman

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Friday that the country had accepted the United Nations request to give asylum to 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun.

"This is Rahaf al-Qunun, a very fearless new Canadian", Ms Freeland said.

A top Thai immigration official said earlier Friday that Alqunun had been granted asylum in Canada, and had boarded a flight for Toronto with a "smiling face".

Teenage Saudi asylum-seeker Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun landed in Canada on Saturday to an official welcome after fleeing her home country last week.

Raif Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar also praised Canada, calling Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Twitter "the real hero" behind efforts to prevent Qunun's repatriation to Saudi Arabia.

"Rahaf wanted Canadians to know that she's arrived in her new home, but she's had a very long journey".

Alqunun, from Hail in northwestern Saudi Arabia, had said she feared she may have been killed if forced to return to her family.

The UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) said it considered her to be a legitimate refugee and welcomed Canada's decision to grant her asylum.

The Saudi teen who fled alleged abuse by her family arrived in Canada Saturday.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun smiled broadly as she exited an airport arrival door sporting a Canada zipper hoodie and a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees hat, capping a dramatic week that saw her flee her family while visiting Kuwait and before flying to Bangkok.

Ms.al-Qunun's case has highlighted the cause of women's rights in Saudi Arabia.

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A young Saudi woman who caused a sensation by defying her family and seeking asylum overseas was welcomed with open arms in Toronto Saturday at the end of an exhausting global odyssey.

But she was back online later in the day, tweeting: "I would like to thank you people for supporting me and saving my life".

The decision is likely to exacerbate Canada's already poor relations with Saudi Arabia, which past year barred the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh after Ottawa criticized Saudi authorities for detaining women's' activists. "Truly I have never dreamed of this love and support".

Qunun arrived in Bangkok a week ago and was initially denied entry.

Qunun took a Korean Air flight from Bangkok to Seoul on Friday and then a connecting flight to Toronto. She, too, used social media in a bid to reach Australia.

Hakparn, the Thai immigration official, said Qunun had continued to refuse to meet with her father and brother before leaving Thailand.

Alqunun said her father physically abused her and tried to force her into an arranged marriage.

Canada's move is sure to further strain its relations with the Arab kingdom.

UNHCR welcomed Canada's decision to "provide worldwide protection and a long-term solution" for Qunun as a resettled refugee.

"We believe very strongly that woman's rights are human rights", Freeland said.

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