Sana’a: The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has agreed to grant asylum to a Saudi woman who eloped and ran away from her house early last month.
An official from the UNHCR told Gulf News that the woman was given asylum on humanitarian grounds as she could face the risk of victimisation if she was sent back home.
Huda Abdullah Al Niran escaped forced marriage in Saudi Arabia and came to Yemen last month to get married to her Yemeni sweetheart Arafat.
“The woman could face torture or even death if she returned as tribal norms dictate in such cases,” the official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Early on Sunday, prosecutors at Sana’a’s Southwest Court postponed their verdict in the case as hundreds of activists protested outside the building demanding exoneration of the woman from charges of illegally entering the country.
The adjournment to Tuesday was made at the request of the woman’s lawyer Abdul Rageeb Al Qadhi who told the court that the woman had applied for an asylum to the UNHCR and the agency should be given some time to deal with the issue. Lawyers say that prosecutors could announce the final verdict in the case on Tuesday.
“After receiving the official papers of asylum, no one can deport her,” the official said.
Lawyers, who supported the woman, feared that if the woman was cleared of charges before getting asylum, the ministry of interior might succumb to pressure from the Saudi embassy and deport her.
Huda’s boyfriend is also on trial for helping her to illegally cross the border. Arafat’s lawyer say that he did not commit any crime as he arrived at the Yemeni border with Saudi Arabia nine hours after Huda.
Following the news of Huda’s asylum, jubilant activists announced that two local tribal leaders made donations to help the two lovers get married.
“A shaikh from Wasab donated a house while another one donated a furnished bedroom.” The activists posed on a Facebook page called “We are All Huda and Arafat” that got roughly 11,000 likes.