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

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne will be meeting senior officials in Thailand

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne will be meeting senior officials

An 18-year-old Saudi girl, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, who fled from her family in Kuwait to Thailand, has been granted asylum in Canada. "When the United Nations made a request of us that we grant al-Qunun's asylum, we accepted".

Qunun was flying to Toronto via Seoul, South Korea, according to Thai immigration Police Chief Surachate Hakparn.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun grabbed worldwide attention this week after she barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to resist being sent home to her family, which denies any abuse.

The fast-moving developments capped an eventful week for Rahaf Mohammed al Qunun.

Alqunun, from Hail in northwestern Saudi Arabia, had said she feared she may have been killed if forced to return to her family.

The 18-year-old, who was en route to Australia, was stopped by Saudi and Kuwaiti officials when she arrived at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport last Saturday, and her travel document forcibly taken from her.

Upon her arrival at the Toronto airport, Qunun, wearing a Canada hoodie and a UN High Commission for Refugees cap, posed for photographs with Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, but did not make a statement.

Alqunun's case recalls another woman who tried to escape Saudi Arabia, as NPR's Sasha Ingber has reported.

A young Saudi woman who caused an global sensation as she sought asylum overseas arrived in Toronto today where she was welcomed with open arms.

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In her last tweet before leaving for Toronto, Qunun said, "I did it", and posted pictures from inside an airplane.

Alqunun had been on vacation with her family in Kuwait earlier this month when she ran away and took a flight to Bangkok, NPR reports.

She was off to get winter clothes, said Mario Calla, executive director of COSTI Immigrant Services, which is helping her settle in temporary housing and applying for a health card.

In August, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada's ambassador to the kingdom and withdrew its own ambassador after Canada's Foreign Ministry tweeted support for women's right activists who had been arrested.

Rahaf's swift use of Twitter saw her amass more than 100,000 followers within a week, highlighting her plight and allowing her to avoid the fate of countless other refugees who are quietly sent back home or languish in Bangkok detention centres. "Truly I have never dreamed of this love and support". She has refused to see her father who travelled to Thailand and expressed opposition to her resettlement.

The move could further upset Saudi-Canada relations.

Surachate said her father - whose name has not been released - denied physically abusing Alqunun or trying to force her into an arranged marriage, which were among the reasons she gave for her flight.

"Canada has been unequivocal that we will always stand up for human rights, and women's rights around the world", the prime minster said.

Surachate had told reporters earlier Friday that "two or three" countries were ready to offer her asylum.

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