Sunday 4 December 2016

Girl (3) among five refugees found in shipping container

Brendan Keane

Published 19/10/2016 | 02:30

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A three-year-old girl was found among a group of refugees in the back of a lorry that was shipped in to Ireland.

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The girl was found in the lorry at haulage firm O'Leary International in Marshmeadows, New Ross, with three men and one woman. All of the occupants of the container are from the Middle East, and told immigration officers they were Kurdish.

Wexford Chief Superintendent John Roche said the people with the child, who are all aged in their 20s, were discovered at 6pm on Sunday. Noises from the back of the lorry alerted one of the company's staff who contacted gardaí.

The people had travelled on the Oscar Wilde ferry into Rosslare Europort from Cherbourg the previous day.

They are thought to have entered an unaccompanied refrigerated container which was left in Cherbourg.

The container was taken from a compound in the port city by a tug on Saturday and deposited on the ferry for the 18-hour journey to Ireland.

It was sealed by custom officials as it contained perishable goods.

Supt Roche said the refugees were taken to New Ross garda station where they were medically assessed prior to being taken to Wexford garda station's immigration unit.

They were processed and interviewed before being taken to a refugee reception centre in Waterford where they spent the night, then onward to Dublin where they will apply for asylum seeker status.

He said: "They were all in good health and we made sure they had food and plenty of liquids."

The matter is still under investigation. It is not known whether the group are related as the last names given are not similar.

Supt Roche said there was a significantly increased garda presence at Rosslare Europort this year. Around 10 people in total, including some children, have so far been found hiding in the back of lorries and trailers.

"Both immigration and security checks have increased at Rosslare Europort in recent months. We have six ferries arriving here every day from Cherbourg, Fishguard and Pembroke," he added.

"We search the majority of trucks coming into Rosslare Europort and we have found a lot of clandestines who are sent back to France.

"This container was sealed so we could not search it."

Supt Roche said Wexford immigration officers were in regular contact with their counterparts in Cherbourg.

He said several people who had false documents has been sent back to their outgoing port from Rosslare Europort.

The increased garda presence is also due to the heightened Isil threat across the continent.

In June, a cargo of €18,500 of apples owned by a Wexford company had to be destroyed after a refugee left a bottle of urine in the back of a trailer.

In February, nine male refugees were discovered inside the back of a truck in New Ross that also arrived at Rosslare Port.

Irish Independent

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