Kurdish migrants found in container seek asylum

Gardaí discovered nine Kurdish migrants inside a refrigerated freight container at the weekend after they tracked a mobile phone used by the migrants to ring 999.
Kurdish migrants found in container seek asylum

Eight of the nine Kurds — who came in on a container off the Cherbourg to Rosslare ferry on Saturday — have requested asylum. The ninth was detained under immigration laws, and may face deportation, while the driver of the truck has also been questioned by gardaí.

The Irish Road Haulage Association said the country is blessed it was not looking at “mass deaths” on the first day of the election count.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland said the incident was “the direct result” of the EU’s failure to honour commitments on resettlement and said the refugees should be provided “every possible support”. Gardaí in Wexford said they received a 999 call from someone claiming there were people in the back of some type of truck.

Gardaí responded immediately. “We tracked it via the phone and located the truck at a depot in New Ross. They were inside a refrigerated truck unit, but not a deep freeze one,” said a garda source.

Brian Killoran, the ICI chief executive
Brian Killoran, the ICI chief executive

It is understood gardaí and the HSE scrambled an emergency response plan and up to five ambulances and a heli-ambulance were on standby. The nine people were taken to University Hospital Waterford but were all “fit and well”.

Gardaí judged by the documentation the migrants showed them that they were Kurdish.

They are all aged in their 20s. Eight of them requested asylum, while the detention of the ninth was for immigration offences. It is thought this may be because he had no documentation papers. He faces being deported. The eight others were brought to an asylum reception centre.

The driver of the truck is being questioned and gardaí are examining at what stage he took charge of the container and what checks he made.

Verona Murphy, president of the IRHA, said the driver may have only picked the container up from the ferry at Rosslare and that the doors could already have been sealed. She said there were “health and safety” issues for drivers opening seals in case they came across migrants who were possibly “aggressive or even armed”.

She was highly critical of authorities in France, claiming they were not detecting migrants inside containers. Ms Murphy said the IRHA was assisting Irish drivers who were subsequently stopped by British authorities after detecting migrants on board, and prosecuted for human trafficking.

Ms Murphy added: “We are blessed we are not dealing with mass deaths.”

Brian Killoran, the ICI chief executive, said the plight of the refugees highlighted “the fact that EU governments, including our own, have not honoured their commitments to offer protection, help, and support to those fleeing war and conflict”.

He said the first priority should be to ensure those found were “treated with humanity”.

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