Channel Tunnel refugee granted UK asylum

A Sudanese man who made global headlines in August when he walked 50km through the Channel Tunnel from France to England, highlighting the plight of migrants, has been granted asylum in Britain.

The case of Abdul Haroun, who has been in prison since he was arrested at the English end of the tunnel on August 4, is one of the most dramatic examples of a country struggling to tackle an influx of refugees largely from war zones such as Syria.

After walking for 12 hours in near total darkness as trains rushed past at speeds of up to 160 km per hour, Haroun was charged with the obscure 19th century offence of obstructing a railway, which attracts a penalty of up to two years in jail.

Refugee rights campaigners accused authorities of treating Haroun harshly to deter others from following in his footsteps, while tunnel operator Eurotunnel called for “the full force of the law” to be used against him.

Haroun had been due to stand trial this month, but at a brief hearing on Monday at Canterbury Crown Court, in the southeastern county of Kent, prosecutor Philip Bennetts said Haroun had been granted asylum on December 24.

The case was adjourned to January 18 to give the prosecution time to decide whether to continue with the case.

Eurotunnel said the granting of asylum to Haroun would encourage others to seek clandestine ways to enter Britain.

“He not only caused significant disruption to Eurotunnel and to the many freight and passenger customers travelling at the time, he also put his own life and that of others at risk,” the company said in a statement.

Judge Adele Williams granted Haroun immediate bail, ending five months of pre-trial detention that had left his lawyers concerned about his psychological state.



By Adam