Immigration

Saudi sisters who fled to Georgia 'thrilled' to be granted asylum in a third country

0:00

Two Saudi Arabian sisters who fled their family to Georgia have announced on Twitter they have been granted asylum in another country, expressing deep gratitude for the international support they have received.

Two Saudi sisters who fled to Georgia saying they feared being killed if they returned home posted on social media Tuesday that they have now obtained Georgian passports and are moving to a third country.

The women, who identified themselves as 28-year-old Maha Alsubaie and 25-year-old Wafa Alsubaie, wrote on Twitter account @GeorgiaSisters2, "we are on our way to start a new life in a new country".

The sisters, who appealed for help via social media last month, are the latest to flee the Islamic kingdom where they say they feared for their lives.

"Finally we are going to another country, We have a new home, we have to start our new life," said Wafa in a video that shows the pair at Tbilisi airport.

They wave Georgian passports and smile broadly in the video while saying on Twitter they would not give details of where they are moving to "for a little while".

The Georgian interior ministry  told AFP they could not comment on whether the women had left the country because information about asylum seekers is confidential. 

The ministry however confirmed the women were safe as did a Georgian rights NGO that has worked with the women, Article 42 of the Constitution.

Last month, the women pleaded for international protection saying they were "trapped in Georgia" after Saudi authorities cancelled their passports.

"If we go back to Saudi we will be killed," they said.

Maha Zayed al-Subaie 28, left, and her sister, 25-year-old Wafa
Maha Zayed al-Subaie 28, left, and her sister, 25-year-old Wafa have announced on Twitter they are leaving Georgia to start a new life.
Twitter: @GeorgiaSisters2

Georgian authorities gave them shelter but the women said they did not feel safe to remain in the country because their father and brothers were searching for them there.

More than 40,000 people signed a Change.org petition by the women asking for UN help to gain asylum in a "safe third country".

Saudi Arabia is one of the world's most restrictive countries for women.

In a similar case in March, another two Saudi sisters aged 20 and 18 who were marooned in Hong Kong reached the third country after securing humanitarian visas as they sought sanctuary from an abusive family.

In early 2019, 18-year-old Saudi Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun drew global attention with her dramatic escape from an allegedly abusive family, gaining refugee status in Canada.

Many Saudi women who flee overseas have spoken to media and rights groups of persuasive and coercive tactics deployed by officials and family members to pursue those who escape.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch