Thailand Immigration chief Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn has confirmed 18-year-old Saudi Arabian asylum seeker Rahaf Alqunun will be leaving Thailand soon, and more than likely accepting asylum from either Australia or Canada.
The Immigration chief told reporters on Friday the UN had accelerated her case, and that both Australia and Canada have now said they will offer her asylum.
It is now up to Rahaf Alqunun to decide which country she would prefer to go to, with Pol Lt Gen Surachate saying her decision will probably have been made by tonight.
Rahaf Alqunun was on her way to Australia via Bangkok on Saturday, when she was stopped by a Saudi Arabian diplomat and Thai authorities at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.
After being detained by Thai Immigration, she was told she would be deported back to Kuwait from where she had originally arrived.
From there, her family was expected to take her back to Saudi Arabia. A country Alqunun did not want to go to, and where she felt her life would be in danger since her family was abusive. She also said she had recently renounced Islam.
After being relocated to an airport hotel by Thai Immigration, the 18-year-old woman barricaded herself in her room, and refused to leave until she could speak to the UN.
Alqunun then went on Twitter and asked the world for help.
Rahaf Alqunun was officially given refugee status by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees later in the week. That opened up the door for any country that wished to take her in to do so.
Several countries have come forward in recent days offering Alqunun asylum, including Australia and Canada.
Alqunun is expected to choose one of them, as both countries were on the list of countries she had asked to help her while on her initial Twitter appeal.
Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn says Rahaf Alqunun will be leaving Thailand as soon as she has decided which country’s offer she will accept.
Meanwhile, Alqunun’s Twitter account was closed down earlier today, after the teenager said she was receiving death threats. One of them from a relative.