Shipping container claims probed as groups of African children found in Belfast

Police are investigating the discovery of several groups of African children in Belfast amid claims from some that they arrived in a shipping container with up to 50 people.

The young people from Eritrea have been discovered in different locations across the city since 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 young people are being cared for by health authorities in the city.

Some are in the care of children’s homes.

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.”

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