A British woman from west London who quit her job to volunteer at the Calais Jungle is set to marry a Syrian migrant she met at the camp.
The Times has reported that Sarah Gayton, a management consultant, met the younger Syrian student Hamoude Khalil a year ago when she arrived in the French port to distribute aid in the illegal migrant camp. French president François Hollande has vowed to dismantle the camp before winter.
Five days after meeting the Syrian migrant, Ms. Gayton returned to Britain to quit her job and went back to Calais. The two reportedly became close as they worked together in a warehouse run by the charities Help Refugees and L’Auberge des Migrants. Within a few months, the couple were engaged.
Last week allegations emerged on social media that open border activists and volunteers in the Jungle were engaged in “sex tourism” and were sexually exploiting migrants, with stories of “well known” people “sleeping around” with migrants.
The allegations was first exposed to the press and the public after an extensive discussion on a number of pro-Calais migrant Facebook pages including ‘Calais – People to People Solidarity – Action from UK’ – a group to which the British volunteer belonged and to which the above picture was posted.
Ms. Gayton said that she was “alarmed” by claims on social media that British women were having sex with migrants in the camp. She strongly insisted that she was “definitely not looking for love” when she entered the unofficial migrant camp and that the couple’s love was genuine.
She stated that the couple were “open” about their relationship in the Jungle, that no objections were raised by the charities she worked for.
The Syrian had travelled in 2014 from Aleppo to Turkey where he paid people traffickers $1,000 (£770) to smuggle him across the Aegean sea to Greece – the new pinch point for the migrant crisis following the closure of the Balkan route.
He then travelled through several safe European countries before arriving in Calais, France, where he waited to illegally travel across the Channel to Britain.
Two months after arriving in Calais, Khalil met Ms. Gayton. Within a few months of knowing each other, he asked the British volunteer to marry him. Ms. Grayton then returned to west London to “get life back in order”.
However, Khalil “broke a promise” to his fiancée by then illegally entering Britain in the back of a lorry. He has since been given leave to remain for five years.