Photo Courtesy /National Post: In this photo released by the Immigration Police, Chief of Immigration Police Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn, right, walks with Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun before leaving the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. A Saudi woman who says she is fleeing abuse by her family and wants asylum in Australia has sent out desperate pleas for help over social media. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, 18, began posting on Twitter late Saturday after her passport was taken away when she arrived on a flight from Kuwait.Immigration police via AP

A Saudi woman who fled her family and refused to leave a Bangkok hotel has been given refugee status by UN, the Australian government says.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, refused to board a flight from Bangkok to Kuwait on Monday and barricaded herself into her airport hotel room.

She said she feared her family would kill her for renouncing Islam.

The UN’s refugee agency has referred her case to Australia for possible resettlement.

In a brief statement, Australia’s Department of Home Affairs said it would “consider this referral in the usual way”.

“The government will be making no further comment on this matter,” it said.

Ms. Mohammed al-Qunun’s father and brother have arrived in Thailand but she is refusing to see them.

Renunciation of Islam, known as apostasy, is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

Thai immigration officials had initially said she should return to Kuwait.

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