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UK slammed for giving asylum to tunnel walker

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Photo: AFP
08:30 CET+01:00
The company which operates the Channel Tunnel said on Tuesday Britain's decision to grant asylum to a Sudanese man who walked the passage between France and England was "unfortunate".

Abdul Rahman Haroun, 40, was granted asylum on December 24, after being arrested on suspicion of walking through the 31-mile (50 kilometre) tunnel in August.

"It is unfortunate because it can give bad ideas to certain migrants and encourage them to risk their lives," a spokesman for Eurotunnel told AFP.

The Channel operator has struggled for months with migrants storming their premises to get into the tunnel and attempt to make their way to Britain.

Stepped-up security has significantly slowed the attempts to get through, but in mid-December between 800 and 1,000 migrants made a desperate bid to storm the tunnel, resulting in clashes with security forces.

Local government estimates up to 4,500 people fleeing war and poverty in Asia, the Middle East and Africa are living in notoriously squalid conditions in a makeshift camp in Calais known as the "Jungle".

Many of the refugees and migrants want to reach Britain because they speak English, or because they have relatives there, others simply believe their chances of a better life are higher in Britain.

At least 18 have died since last June trying to get across the Channel, but Haroun was one of the few make it through alive.

He was arrested in Kent, in southeast England, and charged under an 1861 law on malicious damage with causing an obstruction to an engine or carriage using the railway.

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His case was on Monday postponed for two weeks while prosecutors weigh whether to proceed with it.

With security tight around the Calais Jungle, authorities in Belgium said this week that a growing number of migrants are seeking to leave for Britain from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, located some 130 kilometres (80 miles) north of Calais.

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