Abdul Rahman Haroun climbed four fences, avoided 400 security cameras, and walked 30 miles underground from Calais, France toward England in the Channel Tunnel.
The 40-year-old Sudanese migrant risked his life over his 11-hour trek, with trains traveling from London to Paris whizzing by at up to 100 miles an hour. And his daring journey ended when he was arrested in Folkestone England, close to the English side of the tunnel. Haroun, who authorities say has no official address, was charged under the Malicious Damage Act of 1861 with obstructing engines or carriages on a railway. He is expected to appear at the Canterbury Crown Court on Aug. 24, the New York Times reports (paywall).
“It is illegal and very dangerous to attempt to enter the tunnel, and a person can be seriously injured or killed,” Romain Dufour, a spokesperson for Eurotunnel, told the Times. “Mr. Haroun could now face prison, and he will likely not be able to get asylum. He has lost everything.”
Despite an overnight alert to authorities that migrants were trying to enter the tunnel, Haroun managed to slip past and enter the southern rail crossing at around 7:30am Tuesday (Aug. 4), Dufour said, and he was arrested near Folkestone at around 6:15pm that same day.
While inspectors were searching for him, traffic was halted on a 10-mile stretch of the tunnel and the entrance to the France side was sealed. The inspection caused two-hour train delays for some passengers, the Times reports.
Haroun’s attempt to enter England is only unique in terms of how far he made it by foot—before being caught. Desperate migrants trying to travel through the Channel Tunnel from France to England have become such a big problem that the United Nations has called the situation in Calais—where an estimated 3,000 people, mostly from the Middle East and Africa, are living in an informal settlement known as “The Jungle”—a “civil emergency,” Newsweek reports.
Vincent Cochetel, director of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Europe, has strongly urged France and the rest of the continent to undertake an “urgent, comprehensive and sustainable response” to the refugee crisis.