Saudi woman has left the airport hotel and is under government protection: UNHCR
07 January 2019, 18:22
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who says she’s abused by her family and barricaded herself in a hotel room to avoid being sent back home has left the airport hotel she was in and is now staying at a hotel in Bangkok under the protection of immigration officials, Caroline Gluck, a senior regional public officer for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), reports Euronews.
A representative of the UNHCR met Qunun at the airport and was to discuss the case with Thai immigration officials
The 18-year-old was meant to take a flight back to Kuwait City, where her family is, on Monday morning.
Qunun has said she fears that if she goes back to her family they will kill her.
Deputy Asia Director for Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson, who’s been in contact with Qunun, told Euronews over the phone that the young woman had suffered “physical and psychological abuse from her family”.
Robertson said that she is “scared to death, is barricaded in her hotel, and wants the UNHCR to come see her.”
A tweet on Qunun’s Twitter account managed by a friend said that Thai authorities were preventing the United Nations from seeing her.
Melissa Fleming, the Chief Communication officer for UNHCR, tweeted that her colleagues in Bangkok were trying to reach Qunun.
I want UNHCR
— Rahaf Mohammed رهف محمد القنون (@rahaf84427714) January 7, 2019
Robertson added that the 18-year-old who’s had her passport “confiscated” would like to file for asylum.
Video from @rahaf84427714 just sent from her hotel room at the #Bangkok airport. She has barricaded herself in the room & says she will not leave until she is able to see #UNHCR. Why is #Thailand not letting @Refugees see her for refugee status determination? @hrw #SaveRahaf pic.twitter.com/3lb2NDRsVG
— Phil Robertson (@Reaproy) January 7, 2019
The Saudi teen has been in Bangkok airport since Saturday after she was denied entry by Thai immigration officials.
Qunun told Reuters she fled Kuwait while her family was visiting the Gulf country and had planned to travel to Australia via Thailand to seek asylum.
She also said she was detained after getting her plane in Bangkok and told she would be sent back to Kuwait.
“When I landed at the airport, someone came and said he would process the (Thai) visa but he took my passport. He came back with what seemed to be airport security and said that my parents objected and said I must return to Saudi Arabia via Kuwait Airways,” she told Reuters.
A tweet on the Saudi Foreign Ministry official account denied allegations that its embassy had confiscated her passport.
A spokesman for Kuwait Airways told Reuters they had no information about the case.
Euronews has sent a request for comment to UNHCR’S office in Bangkok and Kuwait Airways.