Thai authorities have confirmed they will not deport Saudi Arabian teenager Rahaf Mohammed Mutlaq al-Qunun who is seeking asylum in Australia.
Al-Qunun arrived in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport on Sunday and claims her passport was confiscated by Saudi Arabian diplomatic staff on arrival.
She was due to be deported to Kuwait on Monday, however she had barricaded herself inside a hotel room and made pleas for assistance from those in the airport and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on social media.
“I’m calling for all people inside the transit area in Bangkok to protest against deporting me to Kuwait,” she tweeted on Monday.
After initially being blocked by the Thai Government, representatives from the UNHCR have since interviewed the 18-year-old, who is now in the custody of Thai immigration officials.
The ABC reports the UNHCR has been given assurances the teen would not be sent back to Saudi Arabia.
Thailand’s Immigration Police Chief, Surachet Hakpal, has also confirmed al-Qunun is safe from deportation.
“We won’t do that, we will adhere to the human rights principles under the rule of law,” he said.
“If she prefers to travel to Australia, we will coordinate with the (Australian) embassy for her.
“But if she wants to remain in Thailand, we will have to talk to the UNHCR for the UNHCR to accept her as an asylum seeker in order to consider her refugee status.”
Meanwhile, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says the government is monitoring the case closely.
“The Australian Embassy in Thailand has made representations to both the Thai Government and the Bangkok office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to seek assurances that Ms al-Qunun can access the UNHCR’s refugee status determination process in Thailand,” the statement said.
It’s believed that the teen is trying to escape her father and begin a new life in Australia, after fleeing from her family following a holiday in Kuwait.
The ABC has more.