WASHINGTON — The United States is prepared to welcome a Libyan woman who accused soldiers loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi of raping her as long as she goes through the normal refugee process, a senior US official said Tuesday.
The woman, Iman al-Obeidi, is currently at the emergency transit center in Timisoara, Romania, along with about 100 other evacuees from different locations, according to UN refugee officials.
Al-Obeidi’s application would be expedited but she would still have to meet standard resettlement requirements, the US official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Al-Obeidi, 29, attracted international media attention when she stormed into the Rixos hotel in Tripoli on March 26 and threw open her coat to reveal scars and bruises on her body.
She accused forces loyal to Kadhafi of abusing her after she was stopped at a checkpoint in Tripoli.
Al-Obeidi had escaped from Libya to Qatar with the help of rebels, but Qatar sent her back to rebel-held Libya despite concerns for her safety, UN and US officials said.
“Should she wish to resettle in the US, she can go through the standard process for consideration for resettlement, which is run by the US refugee admissions program,” the senior US official told reporters.
“We obviously would expedite her case, but she’d still have to go through security and medical screenings and it could take up to several months if she in fact decides to come here,” the official said.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said earlier the United States was following the case closely and was going to “make sure that she finds appropriate asylum.”
According to local media quoting staff at the Romanian refugee center, al-Obeidi still carries marks of violence and was briefly admitted to hospital for a medical examination.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Romania, Machiel Salomons, told AFP that al-Obeidi is accompanied by UNHCR staff “at all times and she continues to be cared for by them.”
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