Saudi students ordered home from Canada ‘seek asylum’

Moves follow decision by Saudi Arabia to order students back from Canada in diplomatic spat

September 10, 2018
Canada border

Saudi Arabian students are seeking asylum in Canada after they were ordered home following a diplomatic falling-out between the two countries.

Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi Arabian who successfully claimed asylum in Canada in 2014, is helping about 20 students with their claims so that they can continue their studies, according to the Toronto Star.

Last month, the Saudi Arabian government ordered all its students in Canada, who number about 12,000, to return home by 31 August.

The dispute erupted after Canadian foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland sent a tweet calling on Saudi Arabia to release jailed human rights activists. In retaliation, the Saudi government also suspended trade and investment and ordered the Canadian ambassador to leave the country.

The Saudi government later announced that medical residents and fellows training in Canada could stay until a suitable alternative could be found.

In an address on state-run television, a Saudi government representative had said all students would be accommodated in countries such as the US or the UK. However, experts told Times Higher Education that this would prove almost impossible, particularly so close to the start of the academic year.

Mr Abdulaziz said the students he was helping did not qualify to stay, but do not want to return to Saudi Arabia. The students are concerned they will be questioned by Saudi authorities on why they did not return by the deadline or uncertain whether they will ever be allowed to return to Canada, he added.

anna.mckie@timeshighereducation.com

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