Immigration

Saudi teen Rahaf al-Qunun welcomed as 'brave new Canadian' in Toronto

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Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun has been welcomed by the Canadian foreign minister at Toronto's airport after she was granted asylum there.

An 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled alleged abuse by her family has arrived in Canada after she was granted asylum there.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun stood arm-in-arm with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland at Toronto's airport on Saturday local time, The Associated Press reported.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun stands with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland (right) as she arrives at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun stands with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland (right) as she arrives at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
AAP

Ms Qunun smiled broadly as she exited an arrival door wearing a Canada hoodie.

"This is Rahaf al-Qunun, a very brave new Canadian," Ms Freeland said.

The teenager was tired and preferred not to take questions but she had wanted to come out and say hello to Canadians, Ms Freeland added.

"She wanted Canadians to see that she's here, that she's well and that she's very happy to be in her new home."

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Australia urged to clarify visa status of Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun
Australia urged to clarify visa status of Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun

The refugee boarded a Korean Air flight from Bangkok to Seoul late on Friday night before catching a connecting flight to Canada.

She tweeted two pictures from her plane seat - one with what appeared to be a glass of wine and her passport, and another holding her passport with the hashtag "I did it".

Earlier, the Australian government welcomed the news that Ms Alqunun was granted asylum in Canada, saying her safety was its primary concern.

Australian officials had been weighing whether to offer her asylum, Immigration Minister David Coleman said.

"We have been working with the UNHCR and international partners to ensure her claim is assessed appropriately," he said in a statement.

"We wish Ms Alqunun all the best for her future in Canada."

'She chose Canada'

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was pleased to welcome Ms Qunun.

"That is something that we are pleased to do because Canada is a country that understands how important it is to stand up for human rights and to stand up for woman's rights around the world," Mr Trudeau said.

Ms Qunun garnered worldwide attention after she barricaded herself in an airport hotel room in Bangkok and began tweeting that her life was in danger if she were forced to return to Saudi Arabia.

Canada's ambassador saw Ms Qunun off at the airport in Bangkok and she looked happy and healthy, said Thailand's immigration police chief Surachate Hakparn.

"She chose Canada. It's her personal decision," General Surachate told The Associated Press.

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