A young Saudi woman who is on the run from her family is expected to arrive in Canada today, possibly landing in Toronto.
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun fled what she alleges is an abusive family, escaping to Bangkok, Thailand where she barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and launched a Twitter campaign that drew global attention to her case.
Justin Trudeau told a news conference in Regina on Friday that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees asked Canada to grant the 18-year-old al-Qunun asylum as a refugee, and Canada agreed.
The prime minister also brushed aside suggestions the move might further complicate already strained relations with Saudi Arabia.
Canadian diplomats in the Thai capital were immediately seized with Alqunun’s plight, and though she originally said she wanted to go to Australia, it became clear in the past week that Canada represented her quickest path to freedom.
The organization Human Rights Watch has praised Canada for acting swiftly to provide sanctuary to a vulnerable young woman.
The teen posted pictures of what appeared to be herself on board a plane on Saturday while en route to Seoul, before departing for Canada. She had left Thailand on Friday morning.
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.
While in Bangkok, she was under the care of the UN refugee agency as she awaited a decision by a third country to accept her as a refugee.