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UNHCR grants asylum to Saudi woman in elopement case

SANAA: Huda Al-Niran, a Saudi woman who eloped with her Yemeni suitor last month and crossed illegally into Yemen, heaved a sigh of relief on Sunday when the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees agreed to grant her asylum.
The UNHCR told Yemen media that the woman was given asylum on humanitarian grounds.
Al-Niran, 22, claims she escaped forced marriage in Saudi Arabia and came to Yemen illegally to marry her Yemeni suitor Arafat Mohammed Tahar.
As she pleaded her case to be able to stay and marry Tahar, 25, her supporters demonstrated outside the Sanaa courthouse, sporting headbands proclaiming “We are all Huda.”
In court, she refused to accept a lawyer provided by the Saudi Embassy, fearing pressure to return home.
But Huda did accept to be represented by a lawyer appointed by a Yemeni non-government organisation called Hood, who said he hoped for a favorable outcome.
"This is a humanitarian case, and must not raise tensions between the two countries," lawyer Abdel Rakib al-Qadi told AFP.
Tahar is also on trial for helping her to illegally cross the border.
Following the news of Huda’s asylum, activists announced that two local tribal leaders made donations to help the two tie the knot.

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