Abdul Rahman Haroun, a Sudanese refugee among the 3,000 uncomfortably camped on the northern coast of France, decided to forego the invitation and force his way into the United Kingdom. He made a most impressive effort, climbing over four fences, dodging four hundred security cameras, and running halfway through the undersea railway tunnel connecting France with Britain before tripping an alarm, dodging high-speed trains in the dark tunnel every step of the way.
“He was forced to bear incredibly high temperatures, altered air pressure and roaring noise from trains as he walked along the narrow walkways at either side of the tracks. The walkways are designed for emergency evacuation when no trains are running, and he would only have been able to grab a handrail on the tunnel wall to stop himself being dragged under a passing train,” the UK Daily Mail writes.
“When his presence triggered an alarm at the tunnel’s halfway mark, the French sent a test-train equipped with strong lights to find him,” the report continues. “It failed, however, and he was eventually arrested after being detected on a camera after crossing on to English territory.”
Haroun was ultimately charged with the offense of “obstructing engines or carriages on a railway.”
The incident alarmed many in the U.K., because while Haroun was extraordinarily successful, he was hardly alone in his efforts. Hundreds of migrants have rushed the tunnel in bids to force their way into England. Nine people have thus far died in such attempts. The Eurotunnel company says it is dealing with up to a thousand incursions a day, with over 37,000 thwarted attempts in total, according to the New York Post.
The Daily Mail writes of migrants risking their lives by “smuggling themselves into refrigerated lorries, clinging to the axles of HGVs and even aboard a cargo of coffins,” as well as jumping onto ferry boats and simply trying to swim across the Channel.
Sources quoted by the Daily Mail criticized the French for failing to keep the situation on their side of the tunnel under control, with one saying the Haroun incident was “a snapshot of how badly the French authorities have handled the situation.”
The British government was also criticized, for example by UKIP member of parliament Douglas Carswell, who said his government “needs to take ownership and responsibility over what is going on… the Foreign Secretary said this week he had a grip when he very clearly hasn’t.” This was a reference to Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond’s assurances that Eurotunnel security measures were “having an effect” on the migrant crisis.
Naturally, the refugee situation is also viewed as a humanitarian crisis, with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve warning of “dramatic human consequences” and pronouncing Calais “a mirror of conflicts tearing up regions of the world.”