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Fleeing Saudi woman arrives in Canada

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-01-13 06:30
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun arrives at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, January 12, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

OTTAWA - The young Saudi woman who has been granted asylum after fleeing from her reported abusive family arrived in Canada's Toronto Saturday morning, local media reported.

Rahaf Mohammedal-Qunun, 18-year-old, was welcomed by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, CTV said.

Qunun arrived in Toronto from Seoul, South Korea, a day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would accept her as a refugee.

Qunun reportedly fled her family while visiting Kuwait and flew to Bangkok, where she was stopped at a Bangkok airport last Saturday by Thai immigration police, who denied her entry and seized her passport.

She then barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and launched a social media campaign through her Twitter account that drew global attention to her case. She said her father physically abused her and tried to force her into an arranged marriage. Her father has denied both allegations.

On Wednesday, Canada signaled that it would be open to accepting Qunun, who had asked Canada for help via Twitter. Previously, several countries including Canada and Australia were in talks with the United Nations refugee agency in Bangkok on accepting Qunun.

The United Nations high commissioner for refugees in a statement welcomed the Canadian government's "quick" decision to grant asylum to Qunun and provide a "long-term solution" for her in Canada as a resettled refugee on Friday.

The Canada-Saudi Arabia relations have soured after a diplomatic row which was sparked by the Canadian government's call for the immediate release of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi and his sister Samar via Twitter on Aug. 5, 2018.

In response, Saudi Arabia accused Canada of interfering in its internal affairs and expelled the Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia and recalled its own ambassador from Ottawa.

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