Northern Ireland

East African children found in Belfast 'cold and hungry'

Belfast Harbour Image copyright Maciej Grabowicz

Ten east African children who arrived illegally into Northern Ireland were found "cold and hungry", a solicitor has said.

The children, from Eritrea, were travelling without an adult.

They were taken into care in Belfast after authorities were alerted to their presence in the harbour estate area about two weeks ago.

The children have told social services they spent at least 24 hours in a shipping container before arrival.

It is not known whether the children disembarked in Belfast or Dublin but it is understood they boarded a ferry in Belgium.

It is not clear how long these children were travelling but such a journey can take up to two years.

The BBC also understands two other children arrived in Northern Ireland in August.

Image caption Barbara Muldoon said the children should be granted refugee status

Immigration solicitor Barbara Muldoon, who works with the Children's Law Centre, has met some of the children and said they "are coping well under the circumstances".

"Some of them were extremely hungry, but they are settling in well. They are being well cared for by the (health) trust. So, they're adjusting," said Ms Muldoon.

"We would say all of those young people have a right to asylum, refugee status in the UK, and that they should be granted refugee status and their rights should be protected."

She added the children "should be allowed to live here long term".

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