An 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled her family saying she feared for her life, will arrive in Canada on Saturday, after obtaining asylum in the North American country.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last Friday Canada accepted a request from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to welcome Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, who drew international attention to the ## beginning this week after being barricaded in a hotel room in a Bangkok airport for not being sent to the family home, which denies any abuse.
"Canada is a country that understands how important it is to defend human rights, defend women's rights around the world, and I can confirm that we have accepted the UN request," Trudeau told reporters.
The decision will likely exacerbate Canada's already poor reports with Saudi Arabia, which last year ruled out the Canadian ambassador in Riyadh after Ottawa criticized Saudi authorities for detaining female activists.
Saudi adolescent detained in Thailand fears deportation (1:31)
Alqunun had arrived in Bangkok on January 5 and initially he was denied entry, but soon he started posting messages on Twitter from the Bangkok Transit Area Suvarnabhumi Airport said it was "escaping from Kuwait" and that its life would be in danger if it was forced to return to Saudi Arabia.
After a 48-hour stopover at the Bangkok airport, some of them barricaded themselves into a hotel room allowed to enter Thailand and was later transformed as a refugee by UNHCR.
UNHCR welcomed Canada's decision and also acknowledged that Thailand had given Alqunun a temporary shelter.
"Alqunun's sad situation has captured the attention of the world in the last days, taking a look at the precarious situation of millions of refugees around the world," said a high commissioner of the United Nations for the refugees Filippo Grandi.
Alqunun accused his family of abuse and refused to meet his father and brother who arrived in Bangkok to return to Saudi Arabia.
"It was his desire to go to Canada," the head of Thailand's immigration, Surachate Hakparn, told reporters. "He still refuses to meet his father and his brother, and tonight they will come back too … They are disappointed."
His case has drawn global attention to the strict social rules of Saudi Arabia, including a requirement that women are allowed to travel to a male "guardian", which groups of rights claim to be to trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families.
A Korean Air flight carrying Alqunun left Bangkok for Seoul on Friday night at 11:37 pm local time (16:37 GMT), an airport official told Reuters news agency.
Alqunun was to embark on a connecting flight to Toronto from Seoul Incheon Airport before arriving in Canada on Saturday morning.
Trudeau answered a question as if Canada's move could make it harder to repair links with Saudi Arabia.
"Canada has been unequivocal that we will always support human rights and women all over the world," he said.
Among the increase in domestic policy Trudeau said last month that his liberal government was looking for a way out of a billions of dollars deal with Riyadh.
Alqunun's escape has emerged at a time when Riyadh is facing an unusually intense control by his Western allies about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October and the humanitarian consequences of his war in Yemen.
Canada has repeatedly stated that the killing of Khashoggi was unacceptable and required a full explanation.
Reuters Press Agency