Tag Archives: Australia

Australia FM says country assessing resettlement push for Saudi woman in Thailand

Australia FM says country assessing resettlement push for Saudi woman in ThailandAustralia’s foreign minister Thursday declined to say how long it will take to consider a UN request to resettle a young Saudi woman who fled her family, as the 18-year-old’s plight sparked a topless protest in Sydney and debate among Saudis over their country’s restrictive “guardianship” laws. Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun’s attempt to flee the ultra-conservative kingdom has become a cause celebre for rights groups since the 18-year-old landed in Bangkok from Kuwait last weekend. Thai authorities threatened to deport her but with the help of activists, diplomats and a hastily opened Twitter account Qunun launched an impassioned asylum campaign.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

UN asks Australia to consider Saudi teen for 'refugee resettlement'

UN asks Australia to consider Saudi teen for 'refugee resettlement'The UN has said an 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled her family is a legitimate refugee and has asked Australia to resettle her, Canberra said Wednesday, as the Twitter-led campaign to grant her asylum edged towards resolution. Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun was stopped by authorities at Bangkok’s main airport as she arrived on a flight from Kuwait at the weekend after running away from her family, who she says subjected her to physical and psychological abuse. Thailand initially said it would deport her at the request of Saudi embassy officials, barring her from travelling on to Australia where Qunun said she had intended to claim asylum.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Australia will formally consider asylum claim of Saudi woman in Bangkok

Australia will formally consider asylum claim of Saudi woman in BangkokAustralia has said it will formally consider the asylum claim of a Saudi woman fleeing her family after the United Nations assessed her case and ruled that she was a genuine refugee.  Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, took to Twitter on Monday to plead for her life after she was stopped by Saudi officials and Thai immigration officers during a transit through Bangkok airport while on route to Australia, where she wanted to start an asylum process.   Her passport was confiscated and she barricaded herself in an airport hotel room to avoid being deported on a flight to Kuwait. The teenager then gripped the world with her desperate cries for help  via social media.  She claimed she was escaping from her family who had subjected her to physical and psychological abuse and that she feared she would be killed if she was sent home to Saudi Arabia. Her family have not commented on the allegations, although her father travelled to Bangkok to try to speak to her.  Ms al-Qunun’s panicked efforts to escape repatriation generated a global media frenzy and prompted a U-turn by the Thai authorities who allowed her to be taken into the protection of the United Nations office for Refugees (UNHCR).  On behalf of Rahaf we, her friends, thank all of you guys for the tremendous support that Rahaf has never dreamed of. You are the source of her power and she’s asking you “Don’t abandon me yet. I’m not safe yet, hopefully, I will be transferred to a safe country soon” ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️— Rahaf Mohammed رهف محمد القنون (@rahaf84427714) January 8, 2019 The UNHCR initially said it could take days to process her case, but had decided by Wednesday morning that she was a genuine refugee and referred her to Australia for resettlement.  The decision was made public by Australia’s Department of Home Affairs, which said it would consider the referral from the UN in the usual way.  In a Twitter update on Wednesday, Ms al-Qunun thanked her 107,000 followers for their “support in my difficult psychological situation” and said that she had “regained my strength” after a dramatic few days.  Her extraordinary use of social media to highlight her plight had managed to spark an international outcry and #SaveRahaf campaign within hours of her detention, attracting human rights activists and diplomats to advocate on her behalf.  “Everybody was watching. When social media works, this is what happens,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.  The Saudi embassy in Bangkok has not publicly commented on Ms al-Qunun’s case since it initially claimed on Monday that she had tried to enter Thailand without the right papers, a charge which she denied.  On Tuesday, the Thai immigration office released a video clip of its officials meeting Saudi diplomats to discuss the case.  “When she first arrived in Thailand, she opened a new site (account) and the followers reached about 45,000 within one day,” a Saudi official speaking in Arabic through a translator tells Thai officials in the video.  “I wish you had taken her phone, it would have been better than (taking) her passport,” the official said.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Australia to consider taking in Saudi teen who fled family 'abuse'

Australia to consider taking in Saudi teen who fled family 'abuse'SYDNEY/BANGKOK (Reuters) – Australia said on Wednesday it would consider taking in a 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled to Thailand saying she feared her family, which she accused of abuse, would kill her. Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun arrived in Bangkok on Saturday appealing for asylum. Australia said on Tuesday it would consider resettling her if the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) deemed her a refugee.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Australia considers asylum for Saudi woman as her family arrive in Bangkok

Australia considers asylum for Saudi woman as her family arrive in BangkokAustralia on Tuesday said it would consider a humanitarian visa for a young Saudi woman who had barricaded herself in a Bangkok hotel room and launched a dramatic bid for asylum via social media.   Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, took to Twitter in protest after she was stopped by immigration officials during a transit through Bangkok airport while en route to Australia. She claimed she was fleeing her family who had subjected her to physical and psychological abuse and that she feared she would be killed if she was sent home to Saudi Arabia. Her family have not commented on the allegations, although her father is believed to have now arrived in Thailand. Ms al-Qunun managed to avoid being deported on a flight to Kuwait in a seemingly coordinated effort by the Thai and Saudi authorities after her cries for help sparked a global media frenzy and frantic efforts from human rights workers and diplomats to assist her. Late on Monday she was taken into the protection of the United Nations office for refugees (UNHCR) to process her asylum request. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun walks by Chief of Immigration Police Surachate Hakparn in an image released by the immigration bureau “We are very grateful that the Thai authorities did not send back Ms. Al-qunun against her will and are extending protection for her,” said Giuseppe de Vicentiis, the UNHCR’s representative in Thailand, in a statement on Tuesday.   “It could take several days to process the case and determine next steps”, he added. “For reasons of protection and confidentiality we are not in a position to comment on the details of individual cases". Ms al-Qunun had been in possession of a valid tourist visa for Australia when she was detained at the aiport, as she had been planning to seek asylum there. After fears were raised by her supporters that the visa had been cancelled, the Australian government responded that it was “pleased” that the UNHCR was now handling her case. “The government has made representations to the Thai government and the Bangkok office of the UNHCR about its serious concerns on this matter and the need for Ms al-Qunun’s claim to be assessed expeditiously,” a Department of Home Affairs official told The Telegraph. Rahaf just send me this, she just want you to make sure she is on the hotel and she still needs help and protection. pic.twitter.com/xxs61JIfhP— Rahaf Mohammed رهف محمد القنون (@rahaf84427714) January 7, 2019 “Any application by Ms al-Qunun for a humanitarian visa will be carefully considered once the UNHCR process has concluded,” the official added. The teenager was being held in a secure location in Bangkok on Tuesday. It is not known if she met with her father Mohammed al-Qunun, a Saudi government official from Ha’il province, whose arrival, she told her growing Twitter following, “worried and scared me a lot.” After a day of high drama on social media on Monday, where she used livestreaming videos to transmit her increasingly panicked requests to meet the UN and for help from Western governments, her account remained relatively quiet as she processed her asylum paperwork. However, Ms al-Qunun and her friends increasingly urged Canada to open its doors to her. “I want Canada to give me asylum!” she tweeted. But she also added: “I seek protection in particular from the following country Canada/United States/ Australia /United kingdom, I ask any if it [sic] Representatives to contact me.” #UNHCR & #Thailand govt should say NO to request by father & brother to meet with #Rahaf@rahaf84427714. Only she can make that choice, she's an adult woman who can make her own decisions! t.co/JlbTkTYNknpic.twitter.com/PRBgcyhQ46— Phil Robertson (@Reaproy) January 8, 2019 Stefano Maron, a spokesperson for Canada's foreign office, said: "Canada is very concerned by and watching closely the situation of Ms. Rahaf al-Qunun. We are in close contact with partners about her situation. Canada will always stand up for human rights, very much including women’s rights." Canadian diplomats have been praised by human rights workers for their commitment to her case behind-the-scenes. Phil Robertson, deputy director at Human Rights Watch in Asia, who was closely involved in the case as it unfolded, lauded the Canadian embassy for being “steadfast & superb at every step of the way” to help save Rahaf. Germany also spoke out in support of the young woman. Georg Schmidt, the German ambassador to Thailand, had been one of the first foreign officials to publicly express “grave concern” over her situation. The UK’s foreign and commonwealth office has remained silent on the matter. In one of many apparently desperate tweets as she tried to stave off repatriation, Ms al-Qunun had appealed directly to Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, to help organise an emergency UK travel document.  Ms al-Qunun’s relentless use of social media to highlight her plight sparked a turnaround by the Thai authorities, who had initially claimed she had been running away from her family to avoid marriage and appeared at first to be reluctant to allow the UN access to her. By Monday evening, the Thai authorities had instead assured her safety. "If deporting her would result in her death, we definitely wouldn’t want to do that,” said Surachate Hakparn, Thailand’s immigration chief. The outcome was hailed as a “good day for the cause of human rights around the world,” by Human Rights Watch, which said in a statement that “Rahaf’s tremendous courage and resilience” had been “met with a global surge of sympathy for her” to persuade Thailand to do the right thing.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Australia to 'consider' Saudi woman's asylum plea

Australia to 'consider' Saudi woman's asylum pleaAustralia said Tuesday it will “carefully consider” the asylum claim of an 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled alleged abuse from her family and is now in the care of the UN in Bangkok, after she fended off deportation in a gripping, live-tweeted ordeal. Qunun said she planned to seek asylum in Australia, fearing she would be killed if repatriated by Thai immigration officials who stopped her at the airport. Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has been under heavy scrutiny since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Australia "recognition" move criticized in Israel

Australia "recognition" move criticized in IsraelIsrael indicates displeasure at an Australian decision to recognize West Jerusalem as the Israeli capital – with a confidant of Benjamin Netanyahu suggesting the announcement does not go far enough. Pascale davies reports.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Australia recognises west Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Australia recognises west Jerusalem as capital of IsraelAustralia now recognises west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Saturday, but a contentious embassy shift from Tel Aviv will not occur until a peace settlement is achieved. Canberra became one of just a few governments around the world to follow US President Donald Trump’s lead and recognise the contested city as Israel’s capital, but Morrison also committed to recognising a future state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital. “Australia now recognises west Jerusalem — being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government — is the capital of Israel,” Morrison said in a speech in Sydney.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Australia recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel's capital, embassy not moving yet

Australia recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel's capital, embassy not moving yetAustralia formally recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reversing decades of Middle East policy, but will not move its embassy there immediately, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday. Israel described the move as a step in the right direction. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the announcement was born of Australian “petty domestic politics.” “Australia now recognizes west Jerusalem, being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government, is the capital of Israel,” Morrison said.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Australia, Japan agree to keep pressure on North Korea

Australia, Japan agree to keep pressure on North KoreaCANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia and Japan on Wednesday reaffirmed their commitment to pressuring North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program and enforcing sanctions on Pyongyang.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines