A migrant worker leaves flowers on the car taking away the coffin with the body Sylla Noumo, who died in the fire. Photo: ANSA
A migrant worker leaves flowers on the car taking away the coffin with the body Sylla Noumo, who died in the fire. Photo: ANSA

Sylla Noumo, a 32-year-old from Senegal, died last Thursday in a fire that broke out at the new San Ferdinando tent camp in Calabria. The man had been transferred to the new camp after the previous makeshift camp was cleared by authorities. That camp was evacuated after three migrants died in fires there.

Yet another tragedy has taken place in the Calabrian tent camp of San Ferdinando, where on Thursday (March 21, 2019) night 32-year-old Sylla Noumo, a migrant from Senegal, died in a fire. The new tent camp, which was first managed by the city and is now managed by Caritas, replaced a previous makeshift camp that was cleared in recent weeks after three migrants had died there in fires. 

Tent destroyed by fire 

According to initial reports, the fire broke out in a corner of a six-person tent where some electrical wires were placed. Firefighters were on the scene immediately to put out the blaze and only one tent was destroyed in the fire. The new tent camp, which was built a few years ago by the civil protection service, is equipped with sanitary and health facilities and has security guards. At the beginning of March, the structure was expanded to allow for the transfer of some of the migrants who were living in the previous makeshift camp. That camp was a dilapidated shanty town with shacks made of sheet metal, plastic, and cardboard situated just a few hundred meters apart. At its peak season during the winter citrus harvest, it would host as many as 3,000 people at a time. 

Old tent camp cleared after three fire victims 

The previous San Ferdinando tent camp was definitively cleared on March 7, following three deaths in one year due to fires there. After the last fire on February 16, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini announced the structure would be torn down. In that fire, a 29-year-old from Senegal, Moussa Ba, lost his life. A fire on January 27, 2018 killed Becky Moses, a 26-year-old from Nigeria. A fire on December 2, 2018, killed Surawa Jaith just days before his 18th birthday. The clearing and subsequent demolition operation took place March 6 and 7 without any public disturbances. 

In recent weeks, the interior ministry allocated 350,000 euros to the City of San Ferdinando for management of the post-demolition phase, for urban renovation, and to ensure "suitable living conditions in the area". After the tent camp was evacuated, some migrants who had lived there were transferred to the nearby expanded tent camp.

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