Group of east African children found in Belfast last week ‘had travelled to Northern Ireland in a shipping container with up to 50 other people’, they tell police
- The African children were discovered in different locations across Belfast
- Claimed they had arrived in the city in a shipping container with 50 others
- Comes as 39 migrants were found in a container in Essex on Wednesday
Police are investigating the discovery of several groups of African children being smuggled into Belfast.
The children, thought to be from the northeast African country of Eritrea are believed to have arrived in the UK in a shipping container with up to 50 people.
It comes as 39 migrants were found dead in a shipping container in Essex on Wednesday.
Police are now liaising with health trusts in order to understand the circumstances as to how the children had made it various locations in Belfast.
The children are believed to have been smuggled into Belfast (above) in a shipping container with 50 other people
The map above shows where the children in Belfast had travelled from in order to get to Belfast
The children were discovered in different locations, with the first being found on August 2.
Among the incidents, it is understood that six were discovered in the harbour area of the city in the second week of October while three others presented themselves to the authorities the following week.
According to both police and health sources, some of those latter three children claimed they had arrived in the city in a shipping container containing ‘up to 50 people’.
While police are working to establish whether those claims can be substantiated, it is understood officers have yet to find ‘hard evidence’ to verify the accounts.
The children are thought to have come from Eritrea (pictured above) which is in north east Africa
The young people are being cared for by health authorities in the city.
Some are in the care of children’s homes.
Eritrea is bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti and in recent years has faced both tensions at home and in its neighbours.
It has a one-party state and a highly-militarised society. The government justifies this by warning of a war with nearby Ethiopia.
The country won independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year war.
Just last year the UN estimated that hundreds of thousands of Eritreans had fled the country, making journeys across the Sahara and the Mediterranean into Europe.
A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) spokeswoman said: ‘We are liaising with the relevant health trust to understand the circumstances around a number of unaccompanied children who have been taken into the care of social services.
‘Our first priority is the safety and wellbeing of the children involved.’