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UN: Number of Saudi asylum seekers triples in five years

January 21, 2019 at 12:48 pm

Flag of Saudi Arabia [Ahmet Bolat/Anadolu Agency]

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR ) said the number of Saudi asylum seekers has increased by 318 per cent in 2017 compared with 2012.

The Economist magazine said the case of Saudi teenager, Rahaf Al-Qunun, who has recently been granted refuge in Canada, has drawn the world’s attention to the situation of thousands of Saudi men and women who flee difficult conditions in the kingdom.

According to the UN agency, the number of Saudi asylum seekers reached about 815 in 2017 compared to less than 200 in 2012.

According to the magazine, the rising number of Saudi asylum seekers is believed to have been caused by the Saudi authorities’ suppression of opponents, however, this increase is not linked to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s accession to power in 2017, because the increase was recorded before he came to power.

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According to the magazine, asylum applications registered by UNHCR do not reflect the reality of the situation in Saudi Arabia because requesting asylum is a step that many dissatisfied Saudis do not dare to take.

The magazine cited the case of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Khashoggi did not seek asylum because he did not see himself as an opponent of the Saudi regime, instead he fled to the United States for fear of being harmed because of his criticism of the regime’s practices.