Parent of Saudi teen asylum seeker in Thailand, seeks meeting

The father of an 18-year-old Saudi woman asylum seeker, Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who fled to Thailand saying she feared her family would kill her, has arrived in Bangkok and wished to meet his daughter, Thailand’s Immigration Chief said on Tuesday.

“However, al-Qunun’s father and brother would have to wait and see whether the UN refugee agency would allow them to see her.

“The father and brother want to go and talk to Rahaf but the UN will need to approve such talk,’’ Immigration Chief, Surachate Hakpan, told newsmen.

The UN refugee agency said it was investigating Qunun’s case after she fled to Thailand saying she feared her family would kill her if she were sent back to Saudi Arabia.

Activists are concerned about what Saudi Arabia will do after Thai authorities reversed a decision to expel her and allowed Qunun to enter the country under the care of the UNHCR.

Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch’s deputy director for Asia, told Reuters that the father is now in Thailand and that is a source of concern.

“We have no idea what he is going to do whether he will try to find out where she is and go harass her.

“We don’t know whether he is going to try to get the embassy to do that,’’ Robertson said.

Lawmakers and activists in Australia and Britain urged their governments to grant asylum to Qunun, who was finally allowed by Thailand to enter the country on Monday, after almost 48 hours stranded at Bangkok airport under threat of being expelled.

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A report says she is staying in a Bangkok hotel while the UNHCR processes her application for refugee status before she can seek asylum in a third country.

UNHCR’s Thailand representative, Giuseppe de Vincentiis, said in a statement that it could take several days to process the case and determine the next steps.

“We are very grateful that the Thai authorities did not send back Qunun against her will and are extending protection to her,’’ de Vincentiis said.

SOURCE: Reuters

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