Ireland opens trafficking inquiry after 14 migrants including Vietnamese found in container

By AFP   January 10, 2024 | 07:42 pm PT
Irish police said Wednesday they have opened an investigation into human trafficking after 14 migrants were found inside a refrigerated shipping container in the southeastern port of Rosslare.

U.K. authorities had tipped off Irish colleagues in advance after one migrant raised the alarm before the vessel reached port, an Irish police statement said, adding that nine men, three women and two girls were in good health following a medical assessment.

The migrants' nationalities were not immediately clear.

However, broadcaster RTE and the Irish Independent newspaper reported that most -- including the girls -- were Kurds from Iran and Iraq, with three people from Vietnam and one from Turkey.

They were found when a vehicle was stopped exiting the ferry which had arrived from Zeebrugge in Belgium on Monday.

The Rosslare seaport handles passengers as well as freight from Britain and Europe, with connections notably to France and Spain.

Irish Transport Minister Eamon Ryan told reporters he was relieved the migrants were safe after they were believed to have spent more than 24 hours inside the container.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Dublin would look to process any potential asylum claims as quickly as possible, commenting that the country's "first response is always a humanitarian one."

The president of the Irish Road Haulage Association, Eugene Drennan, told RTE the container had been loaded onto a truck south of Paris before being transferred to Zeebrugge. He added that it was only by chance that a "very awful situation" involving fatalities had been averted.

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