- A Saudi teen who ran away from her family and secured refugee status from the UN has reportedly been offered asylum in Australia.
- Rahaf al-Qunun secured UN protection after she launched a Twitter campaign begging governments to help her escape family who “consider me as property.”
- She fled to Thailand on Saturday and barricaded herself in a hotel room, and avoided deportation when the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) saved her on Monday.
- On Friday, al-Qunun told media she has been offered asylum in Australia, which Thai police said as well. Australian officials decline to comment to INSIDER.
A Saudi teen whose quest to escape her family in the Middle East went viral has reportedly been granted asylum by Australia.
Rahaf al-Qunun, 18, is currently in Thailand, where she posted live updates as she barricaded herself in a hotel room, met with the UN, and asked to be given a new home in Australia.
According to an interview al-Qunun gave to Daily Mail Australia, she has been told that her application for asylum was approved.
According to the site, she said: “They accepted me… I am so happy! I will start a new life.”
Thai immigration officials, cited by CNN, also said that Australia had granted the request. The Australian government declined to comment when asked by INSIDER about al-Qunun’s case.
al-Qunun’s Twitter account, which first helped her share her story with the world, was taken offline on Friday. Shortly beforehand, tweeted that she had “some bad and some good news.”
Another account, which al-Qunun had identified as belonging to a friend, tweeted on Friday: “Rahaf received death threats and for this reason she closed her Twitter account, please save Rahaf life.”
An asylum case that gripped the world
al-Qunun’s story came to light after she left Kuwait for Thailand on Saturday. She barricaded herself in a Bangkok hotel room after Thai authorities seized her passport and tried to send her back to family.
She says she left her relatives, who live in Kuwait, because they “consider me as property.” She said that, were she sent back, they would kill her for renouncing Islam.
Al-Qunun was deemed a refugee by the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) on Wednesday, which means officials decided that her reasons for fleeing are legitimate.
Under rules agreed at the UN 1951 Refugee Convention, member states are banned from sending someone with refugee status back to the country they are fleeing.
Thailand, where al-Qunun now is, has not signed up to these rules. But the Thai government says it wants to protect refugees, and immigration officials have said they do not intend to send al-Qunun back.
In a series of tweets after Al-Qunun arrived at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport she said her family consider her a “slave,” and will kill her if she is sent back, as punishment for renouncing Islam.
Her father denied the claims on Thursday, according to Thailand’s immigration police chief.
Her viral success led a Saudi diplomat in Bangkok to joke: “I wish they [Thai police] would’ve confiscated her phone instead of her passport.”