6 June 2024

The Saudi teenaged girl who fled her family to Bangkok and is seeking asylum in Australia has been declared a legitimate refugee by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), according to a BBC report today.

The UN’s refugee agency has referred the case of Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, to Australia for possible resettlement.

The report said Australia’s Department of Home Affairs said in a brief statement that it would “consider this referral in the usual way.”

Following the announcement by the UNHCR, the Saudi teenager posted a message on Twitter saying: “Don’t let anyone break your wings, you’re free.  Fight and get your rights!”

Refugee status is normally granted by governments, but the UNHCR can grant it where states are unable or unwilling to do so.

Meanwhile, Pol Lt-Gen Surachate Hakparn, commissioner of Immigration Bureau, said that the Saudi girl has refused to meet her father who flew into Bangkok from Saudi Arabia with an intention to convince her daughter to return home.

The immigration chief who met today with the girl’s father whom he described as a high-ranking Saudi official and a UNHCR representative said the Saudi had asked the UN official to try to convince her daughter to meet with him.

He said the father would remain in Thailand until it was confirmed that her daughter had been granted asylum.