Freight survivors plan to stay here

 

Three of the people who survived the tragedy, in which eight stowaways died in a freight container in Wexford last month, have indicated a wish to stay in Ireland.

Senior immigration officials said yesterday that the three, plus a fourth relative, were "expected to make an application for asylum in the next few days".

Currently in the care of the South Eastern Health Board, the three survivors, all male and aged 15, 20 and 33, are said to be "settling in well". They were receiving "all the support and help" the board could give them, a spokeswoman said.

According to sources within the Kurdish community, a brother (20) of the teenage survivor, arrived from London last month and intends to apply for asylum. The brothers are Turkish Kurds.

A man with whom the teenager and his older brother stayed, said the survivor was "talking slowly, moving slowly but recovering. He is obviously very traumatised," he said.

Two other survivors, an Algerian and an Albanian, are staying in bed and breakfast accommodation and are said to be "far from healed, emotionally and mentally".

The three were among five survivors that arrived in Ireland in December, hidden in a freight container which came from Belgium.

Eight others, including three children and a teenager, died during the 2½ day journey from Zeebrugge. They thought they were embarking on a brief sea crossing to Britain.

The other two survivors, a man and a woman, both from Turkish Kurdistan, left Ireland when they were discharged from Wexford General Hospital shortly before Christmas. Both lost spouses and two children. It is understood that one has gone to Britain and the other has returned to Turkey.

Speaking in the aftermath of the tragedy, the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, said the survivors could stay in the State if they so wished. They had "suffered enough", he said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said yesterday that if their applications for asylum were not successful under the terms of the Geneva Convention, the three survivors and the relative could apply for leave to remain on humanitarian grounds.