Bangkok — Human Rights Watch has called on the Australian government to allow entry to a Saudi Arabian woman who's being processed by UN refugee authorities in Thailand after fleeing her homeland.
Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun was detained after arriving in Bangkok on Saturday, but has come under the protection of the UN's refugee agency after refusing to return home.
Alqunun, who says she is fleeing abuse by her family and wants asylum in Australia, has sent out desperate pleas for help over social media. She began posting on Twitter late Saturday after her passport was taken away when she arrived on a flight from Kuwait.
The 18-year-old says she had a visa to continue to Australia, but media reports say the Australian government has now cancelled it. Australian officials have not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Human Rights Watch's Australian director Elaine Pearson says since Australia has expressed concern in the past about women's rights in Saudi Arabia, it should "come forward and offer protection for this young woman."