July 2024

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Abdul Haroun, the Sudanese migrant who walked the length of the Channel tunnel, is facing a possible trial for his act. He had just been granted asylum in the UK, so his supporters hoped the charges would be dropped. He has been charged with obstructing a railway and faces a maximum of two years in prison.

He risked death for a better life

Haroun was the first known migrant who could cross the tunnel on foot. He had a long and perilous journey. Prior to crossing the tunnel, he passed through North Africa, sailed through the Mediterranean, and walked to Calais, France. From there, he climbed the fences to enter the Channel – which set off alarms and suspended rail traffic for two hours. He then walked for 31 miles in the tunnel, with trains barreling through at up to 100 miles an hour, and managed to avoid being killed or caught for almost 12 hours. Haroun was arrested in Folkestone, England near the end of the tunnel.

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His actions sparked debate

Haroun’s journey made international news since it perfectly illustrated how determined some migrants are to leave their countries. Very little is known about Haroun himself, other than the fact that his native language is Zaghawa. He is likely from the conflict-ridden region of Darfur in western Sudan. Haroun has his supporters and his critics. Eurotunnel, the company that manages and operates the Channel Tunnel, believes that Haroun should be prosecuted. John Keefe, a spokesman for the company, said: “

“We believe that it is something that can only act as an incentive to other illegal immigrants to seek to enter the country.”

He said that Eurotunnel hopes the authorities will “use the full force of the law as a dissuasive measure” against others who try to enter the country through the tunnel. After Haroun, two Iranian men made the same journey and were charged with the same offense.  

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Charged with an obscure law

The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees makes it illegal to prosecute people who enter a country of sanctuary irregularly if they are seeking asylum. However, Haroun was charged with an obscure 19th-century railway law – a decision the country has been criticized for. But some have pointed out that Haroun could have sought asylum in France or another safe European country, yet chose to enter England illegally. Haroun had been arrested and sent to prison upon his arrival. He was granted refugee status on December 24th and bailed out on January 4th. Since he was bailed out, he has been staying with a volunteer from a charity supporting him through his ordeal. His supporters having continued to rally behind him; at his hearing, there were several refugee rights campaigners protesting the charge. His trial has been set for June 20th. Before the trial, the defense is expected to argue abuse of process.

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SEE ALSO: Cristiano Ronaldo Makes An 8-Year-Old Syrian Refugee’s Dream Come True.