Vietnamese believed among migrants found in container at Irish port

The trio were among 14 migrants illegally entering Ireland in a likely smuggling operation.


RFA | 2024.01.11

At least three Vietnamese nationals were believed to be among a group of 14 people rescued by authorities after attempting to illegally enter Ireland inside a refrigerated shipping container, a Vietnamese official said Thursday.

If confirmed, this marks the latest attempt by Vietnamese to illegally enter England via Europe, in some cases with disastrous results. In October 2019, 39 Vietnamese were discovered dead inside a truck container in southeast England in what was later determined to be a failed human smuggling operation.

On Thursday, Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Pham Thu Hang said her government is working to verify the nationalities of the migrants at a regular press briefing in Hanoi.

“Right after receiving the information, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs directed the Vietnamese Embassy for the U.K. and Northern Ireland, which also covers Ireland’s affairs, to contact responsible agencies in the host country to learn more about the case and follow its investigation,” Pham Thu Hang told reporters at Thursday’s briefing.

The embassy said it has been coordinating with Irish authorities to verify the identities of the stowaways and assist with citizen protection measures if needed. 

Members of the media had inquired about reports a day earlier that Irish authorities opened an  investigation into possible human trafficking after discovering 14 people in a refrigerated shipping container on a ferry originating from Belgium.

Call from inside container

The British Coast Guard had reportedly received an urgent call from a woman inside the container, and the ferry’s captain ordered a search of the vessel after it docked at around 3:00 a.m. on Monday at the Rosslare seaport in southern Ireland’s Leinster province. 

The illegal immigrants were believed to have broken a hole in the wall of the container in a desperate attempt to get oxygen.

Irish television broadcaster RTE had reported that 10 ethnic Kurds from Iran and Iraq, including two children, three Vietnamese and one Turkish national were inside the container.

The migrants are receiving care and assistance from the International Protection Accommodation Services and Ireland’s Child and Family Agency.

Irish police are liaising with authorities in the U.K., France, and Belgium, as well as Europol and Interpol, to determine how the migrants got into the container, which was loaded south of Paris and driven to Belgium, before being loaded onto the ferry.

Irish Minister of Transportation Eamon Ryan told RTE that his government would make every effort to avoid putting migrants’ lives at risk.

No arrests have so far been made in the case.

Translated by Anna Vu. Edited by Joshua Lipes and Malcolm Foster.




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