Canada: Canada shouldn’t use teenage Saudi refugee as a ‘political football’: ex-ambassador - PressFrom - Canada

CanadaCanada shouldn’t use teenage Saudi refugee as a ‘political football’: ex-ambassador

21:30  12 january  2019
21:30  12 january  2019 Source:

Saudi teen refugee Rahaf Mohammed is dropping her last name. Here’s how she’s starting her new life

Saudi teen refugee Rahaf Mohammed is dropping her last name. Here’s how she’s starting her new life Rahaf Mohammed will no longer use her last name as she starts her new life in Canada. After a frantic 10 days that saw the Saudi Arabian teen flee her family, barricade herself in a Thai hotel room, galvanize international support over social media and ultimately be granted asylum in Canada, Mohammed held a brief press conference on Tuesday in Toronto to thank Canadians for welcoming her. READ MORE: Canada’s acceptance of teen refugee could spark backlash against Saudi women, experts caution "I would like to start by saying thank you," she said in a statement in Arabic translated into English moments later.

Media captionThe moment Saudi teen refugee Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun arrived in Canada . A Saudi teenager who fled her family and got stranded at a Bangkok airport has arrived in Canada after being granted asylum there. Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, had been trying to reach Australia via

Canada will accept a Saudi teenager who fled alleged abuse from her family as a refugee and has spent nearly a week barricaded in a Bangkok hotel room, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 'We have accepted the UN's request that we grant her asylum,' prime minister says.

Canada shouldn’t use teenage Saudi refugee as a ‘political football’: ex-ambassador REFILE - CORRECTING GRAMMAR & TYPO (L-R) Saba Abbas, general counsellor of COSTI refugee service agency, Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, are seen at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Ontario, Canada January 12, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

Canada did the right thing by granting asylum to Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun but should take steps to ensure that the case doesn't cause irreversible damage to relations with Saudi Arabia, says Canada's former ambassador to Riyadh.

Dennis Horak has first-hand knowledge of the two countries' testy relationship, having been expelled from Saudi Arabia in August in the wake of Canada's criticism of the kingdom's detention of women's rights activists.

Fearing for Saudi teen's safety, Canada refugee agency hires guard

Fearing for Saudi teen's safety, Canada refugee agency hires guard Fearing for Saudi teen's safety, Canada refugee agency hires guard

Saudi Arabia's response to Canadian criticism over detained activists has struck some as disproportionate. Regional analysts, however, say it is consistent with Mohammed bin Salman's approach.

Last week, the Saudi government expelled the Canadian ambassador from Riyadh , and canceled flights, educational exchanges, and trade and investment activities between the two countries. This crisis was precipitated by a tweet — published both in English and, crucially, in Arabic — on Aug.

That relationship faces renewed challenges following Canada's decision to grant asylum to Al-Qunun, the daughter of a Saudi governor, who fled Saudi Arabia and accused her father and other male relatives of abuse.

The 18-year-old arrived in Toronto on Saturday after resisting her family's attempts to have her returned to Saudi Arabia from Bangkok, where she barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and launched a Twitter campaign to plead for asylum.

READ MORE: 'A very brave new Canadian' Saudi woman who fled family arrives in Toronto

"I think [granting her asylum] was the right thing to do but it's going to have an impact in Saudi Arabia in terms of their views towards Canada. They'll see this as yet another example of our 'interference' in their internal affairs," Horak told Global News.

Teen refugee arrives in Toronto

Teen refugee arrives in Toronto TORONTO - A Saudi teen described as a "brave new Canadian" by one of the federal government's senior ministers has landed in Toronto after fleeing her allegedly abusive family. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, 18, landed at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Saturday morning aboard a flight from Seoul, South Korea, a day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government would accept her as a refugee. Alqunun, wearing a hoodie emblazened with the word Canada, appeared briefly to reporters at the airport flanked by Foreign Affairs Minsiter Chrystia Freeland, who had her arm wrapped around the teen.

To come to Canada as a refugee , you must be referred. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), a designated referral organization, or a private sponsorship group can refer You cannot apply directly to us as a refugee . To be referred, you must fall into one of these two refugee classes.

Canada has emerged as a potential new home for Saudi refugee Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun despite Australia's willingness to fast-track her application. Several countries including Australia had been in talks with the U.N. refugee agency to accept Ms al-Qunun, who fled alleged family abuse and has

"If we make her a political football to use this case to bash the Saudis to make our point on Saudi human rights, I think that would exacerbate the situation even further. And it wouldn't do her any good either."

Horak said that while it's inevitable that the Al-Qunun case will worsen tensions in the short term, Canada could mitigate the damage by maintaining an open line of communication with Saudi Arabia.

"I think at this point, it's time to let her settle in and then work and talk with the Saudis and explain to them why we did what we did, and perhaps that can mitigate some of the damage that may occur," said Horak.

The case has also sparked concerns about possible Saudi retaliation against the 20,000 Canadians who live in the Arab world's richest country.

Thai police: Saudi asylum seeker going to Canada

Thai police: Saudi asylum seeker going to Canada Thailand's immigration police chief says a Saudi woman who fled alleged abuse by her family will leave Bangkok for Canada. Police Chief Surachate Hakparn says the 18-year-old woman, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, is leaving on a flight late Friday evening. He gave no other details. He earlier said that several countries including Canada and Australia were in talks with the U.N. refugee agency on accepting Alqunun. © Provided by Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, right, walks with an unidentified companion in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019.

Claim refugee protection from inside Canada . Get help from within Canada . Resettle in Canada as a refugee . The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), along with private sponsors, identifies refugees for resettlement . A person cannot apply directly to Canada for resettlement.

The United States Ambassador to the United Nations is the leader of the U.S. delegation, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. The position is more formally known as the "Permanent Representative

Last month, two Canadian men were arrested in China amid tensions between Ottawa and Beijing over the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor remain in Chinese custody after being arrested on suspicion of spying and endangering national security.

READ MORE: Chinese ambassador pens op-ed on Canadian detainees, slams 'Western egotism and white supremacy'

Horak said it's unlikely that Saudi Arabia would resort to similar tactics, although he stated that Canadian expats in the kingdom might encounter other difficulties.

"In my view, a lot of the Canadians that are there are doing valuable work, so I don't think I would see them being arrested for example as we've seen in China," he said.

"They may encounter — and I think some have already since the summertime — difficulty with things like visa renewals or contract renewals... or if they're looking for new jobs with other companies, Canadians may not be the preferred citizenship for prospective employers.

"But I wouldn't be overly concerned about arrests and things."

The Latest: Saudi woman fleeing family arrives in Canada

The Latest: Saudi woman fleeing family arrives in Canada An 18-year-old Saudi woman who said she feared death if deported back home has arrived in Canada, which has granted her asylum. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland says that Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun is now in Canada. Standing with Alqunun by her side at Toronto's airport Saturday, Freeland said: "This a very brave new Canadian." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had said Canada would accept Alqunun as a refugee, capping a dramatic week that saw her flee her family while visiting Kuwait and before flying to Bangkok, where she barricaded herself in an airport hotel to avoid deportation.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR; French: Haut Commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés) (also known as the UN Refugee Agency)

The teen ’s attorneys say she is being asked to disclose her pregnancy to her parents and ‘fears retaliation because she has requested an abortion Mr. Ford and his lawyer say there’s a different explanation: that Morgan Stanley used the journalist’s allegations as a pretext to fire him simply

Horak said it's vital that diplomatic relations don't become strained to the point that Canada and Saudi Arabia shutter their embassies in each other's territories.

"That would certainly not be in Canada's interests and I don't think that'll happen," he said, although he cautioned that "overreaction cannot be ruled out" on the part of the Saudis.

"It's important that Canada be there, it's important that Canada have an embassy there to offer protections, normal consular services and consular protections that are best delivered when there's an embassy on the ground," he said.

Concerns of diplomatic tensions aside, Horak credited Al-Qunun's case for shining a spotlight on Saudi Arabia's guardianship laws which curtail women's freedom.

"When I was there, Saudi women talked to me a lot about the guardianship laws. The West was talking all about driving and they said, 'no that's fine, I'm driving, that's fine' but the real issue for them is the guardianship laws," he said.

It's possible that Al-Qunun's case will spur a renewed examination of guardianship laws, Horak said, although he warned it could also spark a conservative backlash, with families further tightening restrictions on daughters.

As far as Al-Qunun's future goes, Horak said it's important to let her take her time to settle into Canadian life rather than force her to become a mouthpiece against Saudi human rights abuses.

"I think she needs to have time to settle in and if she decides down the road that she wants to be an activist and be very vocal on this, that's great," he said.

"But that should be up to her and not something that we push her into."

— With files from Grant MacDonald

Who benefits from rescuing Rahaf? Questions linger after whirlwind story of Saudi teen's asylum.
It was a whirlwind affair that began with a Saudi teen barricaded in a Thai hotel room demanding asylum. Now, questions are being raised about the reasons for Canada's speedy decision to resolve her case, the message it sends and its implications for the future of already-frosty relations with Saudi Arabia.

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