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Saudi teen asylum seeker is in "safe place", UNHCR says
The 18-year-old Saudi woman asylum seeker who fled to Thailand saying she feared her family would kill her if she were sent back to Saudi Arabia was moved to a "safe place", the United Nations Refugee agency (UNHCR) told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday (January 8). The UNHCR said it was investigating Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun's case and that it would take time to process her application for refugee status, before she can seek asylum in a third country, as UNHCR officials continued to interview her at an undisclosed location in Bangkok. Qunun told the world of her dramatic plight on social media, drawing widespread support and concern, which convinced Thai authorities to back down from deporting her back to Saudi Arabia. She was finally allowed to enter Thailand late on Monday after spending 48 hours at Bangkok airport, some of it barricaded in a transit lounge hotel room. The case has drawn new global attention to Saudi Arabia's strict social rules, including a requirement that women have the permission of a male "guardian" to travel, which rights groups say can trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families.