Refugee Blockade Kills Van Driver In France

REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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A van driver was killed Monday near Calais, France after crashing into a truck that was stopped by migrants attempting to hijack cars to smuggle themselves into the United Kingdom.

The Polish-registered van bursted into flames and the drivers’ body was too damaged to be immediately identified. Nine Eritreans hiding in one of the trucks were detained.

“The van hit one of three HGVs (heavy goods vehicles) blocked by the barricade and burst into flames,” local authorities said in a statement.

Hijackings have become a major problem in Calais in recent years. Roadblocks made of tires, rocks and branches have regularly halted traffic by the Eurotunnel, which connects France and the U.K.

Thousands of migrants lived in the so-called “Jungle” migrant camp in Calais before its demolition in 2016. A 13 ft-tall wall was constructed along the freeway to stop migrants from blocking cars. The roadblocks have since emerged farther away from the tunnel instead.

The death is the first of its kind to be reported in Calais. The British Road Haulage Association has long warned about the dangerous situation for truck drivers. RHA Chief Richard Burnett called on France to deploy its army to the area in 2015 to ensure the safety of drivers.

“The U.K. and French governments must acknowledge their responsibilities to all Port of Calais users, move in and act,” Burnett said in July 2015, according to The Telegraph. “If this means deployment of the armed forces then so be it.”

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