Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says he isn’t fazed whether a young Saudi refugee was granted asylum in Australia or Canada, as long as she’s safe.
Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, 18, has arrived in Canada after fleeing her family in Kuwait to fly to Bangkok, where she barricade herself in a hotel room and made a desperate plea for safety.
The United Nations refugee agency reportedly withdrew its referral for Ms Alqunun to be resettled in Australia because Canberra was taking too long to decide on her asylum.
“I think she had a legitimate and very real case. I was just relieved she’s found a place to go to,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.
He called on Australia to do more to stamp out the mistreatment of women around the world.
“I think we need to redouble our advocacy globally about making sure that our women are not subject to violence,” Mr Shorten said.
“Of course we need to do a lot more in 2019 to protect women in Australia from violence.”
Immigration Minister David Coleman welcomed news that Ms Alqunun was granted asylum in Canada.
“The safety of Ms Al-Qunun has always been the Australian government’s primary concern, and we have been working with the UNHCR and international partners to ensure her claim is assessed appropriately,” he said in a statement.
“At the time of the UNHCR’s referral to Canada on January 11, the assessment of Ms Al-Qunun’s case by Australian officials was progressing.”
Ms Alqunun garnered worldwide attention after she began tweeting that her life was in danger if she were forced to return to Saudi Arabia.