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UNHCR statement on Rahaf Mohammed Al-qunun at Bangkok airport

The Thai authorities have granted UNHCR access to Saudi national, Rahaf Mohammed Al-qunun, at Bangkok airport to assess her need for international refugee protection.

UNHCR has been following developments closely and immediately sought access from the Thai authorities to meet with Ms. Mohammed Al-qunun, 18, to assess her need for international protection.

The Saudi woman told human rights groups and the media that she was stopped at Bangkok airport in transit from Kuwait and had her passport taken from her.  She claimed that she fled her family fearing for her life and had been planning to head to Australia where she hoped to seek asylum.

UNHCR consistently advocates that refugees and asylum seekers – having been confirmed or claimed to be in need of international protection – cannot be returned to their countries of origin according to the principle of non-refoulement.

Non-refoulement is an international principle that prevents states from expelling or returning persons to a territory where their life or freedom would be threatened.

This principle is recognized as customary international law, and is also enshrined in Thailand’s other treaty obligations.

For reasons of confidentiality and protection, we will not in a position to comment on the details of the meeting.

This press release originally appeared in unhcr.org on 07, January 2019