GENEVA / RAHAF AL QUNUN

08-Jan-2019 00:02:30
Saudi national Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun “cannot be sent back” to the Kingdom, in keeping with international law, UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday, adding that it was in contact “on a daily basis” with the 18-year-old who is in Thailand seeking asylum. UNTV CH
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STORY: GENEVA / RAHAF AL-QUNUN
TRT: 2:30
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 8 JANUARY 2019 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
1. Exterior shot, Palais des Nations, cloudy.
2. Med shot, journalists.
3. Close up, journalist.
4. Close up, journalist.
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Babar Baloch, Global Spokesperson for UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR):
“We requested the Thai authorities to allow her to leave the airport hotel room. We were with her yesterday. We are with her today.”
6. Close up, journalists’ hands.
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Babar Baloch, Global Spokesperson for UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR):
“She is at a safe location. For her safety, responsibility in any country as it falls for all of us on the Government that is on the Government of Thailand. But in terms of making sure that she is at a safe place, she is being looked after, I was also saying that she is an individual, so we have to give her that room for her privacy, but we are in touch with her on a daily basis.”
8. Med shot, journalists.
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Babar Baloch, Global Spokesperson for UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR):
“People or individuals who claim to be in need of international protection who are trying to claim access to the asylum procedures, who are trying to claim asylum, they cannot be sent back to a location where they are claiming their life is in danger.”
10. Med shot, journalists.
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Babar Baloch, Global spokesperson for UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR):
“It is a distressing situation, when you are fleeing for your life trying to seek safety and then you face so many hurdles in that journey, it must be distressing. That is why we are relieved that she is not any more in that hotel room, she’s at a safe place where she would have had some rest last night, she would get her sleep back.”
12. Med shot, journalist.
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Babar Baloch, Global Spokesperson for UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR):
“In terms of the claim and all of the details that she will be sharing with us in terms of what were the factors that she’s trying to run away from, we’ll be listening to all those. It will be premature, even in terms of confidentiality, from an individual who talked to us, we won’t be going into details what they have told us. The only thing I can say, we look carefully into all the claims in trying to find out what are the risk factors to validate the claims.”
14. Med shot, journalists.
15. Med shot, podium.
16. Med shot, journalists.
STORYLINE
Saudi national Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun “cannot be sent back” to the Kingdom, in keeping with international law, UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday, adding that it was in contact “on a daily basis” with the 18-year-old who is in Thailand seeking asylum.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch confirmed that the agency had sought assurances from the Thai authorities that Al-Qunun could leave the Bangkok airport hotel room in which she had blockaded herself since Sunday, claiming that her life would be in danger if she returned to Saudi Arabia.

“We requested the Thai authorities to allow her to leave the airport hotel room. We were with her yesterday. We are with her today,” Baloch said.

The UN official also confirmed that Al-Qunun was in a “safe” place in Bangkok and that the authorities were in charge of looking after her welfare.

“She is at a safe location,” Baloch said. “For her safety, responsibility in any country as it falls for all of us on the Government that is on the Government of Thailand. But in terms of making sure that she is at a safe place, she is being looked after, I was also saying that she is an individual, so we have to give her that room for her privacy, but we are in touch with her on a daily basis.”

Under international law, anyone who claims to need shelter outside their home country cannot be returned to a territory where their life or freedom are threatened, Baloch explained to journalists.

“People or individuals who claim to be in need of international protection who are trying to claim access to the asylum procedures, who are trying to claim asylum, they cannot be sent back to a location where they are claiming their life is in danger,” he said.

Asked about how Al-Qunun is feeling, the UN spokesperson highlighted her “distressing situation”.

“It is a distressing situation, when you are fleeing for your life trying to seek safety and then you face so many hurdles in that journey, it must be distressing,” Baloch said. “That is why we are relieved that she is not any more in that hotel room, she’s at a safe place where she would have had some rest last night, she would get her sleep back.”

Ahead of UNHCR’s involvement, Al-Qunun told human rights groups and the media that she had been stopped at Bangkok airport in transit from Kuwait. She claimed that she was fleeing her family and planned to go to Australia to seek asylum.
Baloch noted that the agency would not be disclosing the details of Al-Qunun’s asylum appeal, which it intends to examine.

“In terms of the claim and all of the details that she will be sharing with us in terms of what were the factors that she’s trying to run away from, we’ll be listening to all those,” Baloch said. “It will be premature, even in terms of confidentiality, from an individual who talked to us, we won’t be going into details what they have told us. The only thing I can say, we look carefully into all the claims in trying to find out what are the risk factors to validate the claims.”
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