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UNHCR investigates Rahaf Alqanun’s case for asylum

10 January 2019

"My life is in danger".

Saudi Arabia has denied it asked Thailand to extradite Qunun, the embassy said on Twitter.

"She is under the care of the UNHCR now but we also sent Thai security to help take care [of her]", Surachate told reporters at Suvarnabhumi airport.

Although Thai immigration officials initially attempted to return the young women to her family in the Middle East, they have since vowed to allow her to stay.

Photos released on Monday night by immigration police showed Ms Alqunun with Thai and United Nations officials after she left the airport transit hotel room where she had been holed up over the weekend, sending her pleas for help on her Twitter account. "I know them. They kept telling me they will kill me if I do something wrong - they say that since I was a child". Saudi activists say the kingdom, through its embassies overseas, has at times put pressure on border patrol agents in foreign countries to deport the women back to Saudi Arabia. Does she still hold concerns about her situation there in Thailand?

"Any application by Al-Qunun for a humanitarian visa will be carefully considered once the UNHCR process has concluded, " the official said.

Human rights lawyer Nadthasiri Bergman said she filed an injunction earlier yesterday to prevent Ms Rahaf's deportation.

She said she feared her family would kill her as she had renounced Islam.

Thailand's Immigration Police Chief, Surachet Hakpal, has also confirmed al-Qunun is safe from deportation.

If sent back, Qunun told AFP she would likely be imprisoned, and was "sure 100 percent" her family would kill her, she told AFP.

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In an earlier video post, Alqunun can be seen pacing inside the hotel room and saying, "I just want to survive".

Instead, she has been allowed to enter Thailand temporarily under the protection of the United Nations refugee agency, which was expected to take about five to seven days to study her case and her claim for asylum.

Alqunun told Human Rights Watch that she was fleeing beatings and death threats from her male relatives who forced her to remain in her room for six months for cutting her hair.

In this Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, image made from video released by Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun/Human Rights Watch, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunan views her mobile phone as she sits barricaded in a hotel room at an worldwide airport in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Australian government said it was monitoring the case closely highlighting that "the claims made by Ms Alqunun that she may be harmed if returned to Saudi Arabia are deeply concerning".

He was speaking after meeting Abdalelah Mohammed Alsheaiby, charge d'affaires at Saudi Arabia's embassy in Bangkok, while discussing Thailand's stance on al-Qunun's much-publicised case. He added that they have been told that if she reached the legal age and her documents were legal and complete they will not be able to do so.

Elaine Pearson, the director of Human Rights Watch Australia, said the country should "come forward and offer protection for this young woman".

The airport of Thailand's capital, Bangkok, was allowed to leave now.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun began posting on Twitter late Saturday after her passport was taken away when she arrived on a flight from Kuwait. She talked about what she feared would happen if she was returned to her family, and demanded asylum.

The ultracconservative kingdom has some of the world's toughest restrictions on women, including a guardianship system that allows male family members to make decisions on behalf of female relatives.

UNHCR investigates Rahaf Alqanun’s case for asylum