Rahaf al-Qunun lands in Toronto after long journey to safety

Rahaf al-Qunun lands in Toronto after long journey to safety

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun smiled broadly as she exited an airport arrival door sporting a Canada zipper hoodie and a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees hat, capping a dramatic week that saw her flee her family while visiting Kuwait and before flying to Bangkok.

A Saudi teenager who fled to Thailand saying she feared her family would kill her has been granted asylum in Canada, the Thai immigration chief told Reuters on Friday.

Teenage Saudi asylum-seeker Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun landed in Canada on Saturday to an official welcome after fleeing her home country last week.

Ms Qunun alleged that she was abused by her family - who deny the allegations - and rights groups also said she had renounced Islam, risking prosecution in Saudi Arabia.

Rahaf Al-Qunun left Bangkok for Toronto on Friday after a day of confusion over where she would be resettled.

"Rahaf received death threats and for this reason she closed her Twitter account, please save Rahaf life", tweeted supporter @nourahfa313, who has flanked Rahaf's social media campaign with her own updates on Twitter.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees welcomed Canada's decision.

Although her asylum case moved fast the final maneuvers that led to her flight to Canada remain largely a mystery.

"3rd country", she wrote, apparently referring to Canada.

Qunun's case was dealt with on a fast-track "emergency" basis in light of the urgency of her situation, the UNHCR said.

Qunun's story has also put Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system, which restricts many aspects of women's lives, back under global scrutiny.

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Officials had heavily hinted that the teenager was bound for Australia where she had originally meant to seek asylum.

"She chose Canada. It's her personal decision", he said.

The North American country criticised the rights record of Saudi Arabia in August, prompting Riyadh to expel the Canadian ambassador and sever all trade an investment ties in protest.

Al-Qunun had initially planned to travel to Australia via Bangkok, but was told to return to Kuwait, where she and members of her family had been on vacation. It garnered enough public and diplomatic support to convince Thai officials to admit her temporarily under the protection of United Nations officials.

No country, including the U.S., spoke out publicly in support of Canada in that spat with the Saudis.

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.

"He has 10 children".

Alqunun temporarily disabled her Twitter account due to death threats, according to a friend.

"We have nothing new to add on this right now", said a spokesman for Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian foreign minister.

On Thursday its foreign minister said Canberra was still assessing the request.

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