A 25-year-old Nigerian man was found dead in his tent in Calais, France on Friday after lighting a fire to cook a meal and keep warm.
The death, which was first reported by AFP, has highlighted the conditions facing hundreds of migrants in Calais three years since the authorities began dismantling migrant camps in 2016.
NGOs and refugee aid groups working in Calais confirmed that the man died of smoke inhalation after making a small fire in his tent “in order to cook and warm up”.
Francois Guennoc, vice-president of the Auberge des Migrants in Calais said that the man’s death was “symbolic, at the time when the municipality wanted to remove migrants and volunteers who help them.”
On October 18, Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart announced a decree that would prevent migrants from gathering in the city during a cultural festival marking the Dragon of Calais.
The migrant community in Calais grew to a high of 6,000 people in 2016 when the French authorities finally took the decision to dismantle migrant camps including the so-called ‘Calais Jungle’, a makeshift tent city near the French coast.
There have been a number of attempts by migrants to reach the UK from northern France and Belgium by boat in recent months, which have led to at least five drownings in the English Channel in 2019.