Sat | Dec 5, 2020

UK deportees to arrive in December

Published:Thursday | November 19, 2020 | 12:15 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
A deportee with face covered is met by a reative at Harman Barracks, Kingston, in February. He was one of 17 migrants who were returned home by the British authorities.
A deportee with face covered is met by a reative at Harman Barracks, Kingston, in February. He was one of 17 migrants who were returned home by the British authorities.

Jamaica will, in a matter of weeks, welcome more deported migrants from the United Kingdom (UK) even as lobbyists attempt to put a halt to the plans.

Upwards of 20 persons are being readied by the Home Office to be deported, The Gleaner has learnt, but the plans are already facing a backlash with a number of UK-based action groups preparing to protest the planned mass deportation.

A source within the Ministry of National Security confirmed on Wednesday that the flight is to take place in the first half of December but was unable to state how many persons will be deported.

Attempts to contact the British High Commission for a comment on the matter were unsuccessful.

It is believed that several of the people to be deported had a stay granted at the last minute from a charter flight earlier this year.

The Gleaner could not ascertain the nature of crimes for which they are being deported, except that they have served time in British prisons.

Windrush National Organisation (WNO UK) Chairman Dr Desmond Jaddoo said his group was concerned over the deportation flight scheduled during the height of a new deadly wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jaddoo said the Home Office is yet to state how it will act on recommendations contained in the Wendy Williams Report.

The report identifies the organisational factors in the Home Office that created the environment that fostered mistakes, including a culture of disbelief and carelessness when dealing with applications, made worse by the status of the Windrush Generation, who were failed when they needed help the most.

“Despite the ills of the past and the criticisms contained in the Wendy Williams Report, for which they have issued an action plan, no tangible action has been taken, yet they persist in deportations of this nature despite getting it wrong in the past,” Jaddoo said.

Furthermore, he said as was the case with a flight in February, the planned removal will also affect Windrush engagement as those without status will be hesitant in coming forward.

In February, 17 deportees landed at the Norman Manley International Airport, but now with increased COVID-19 cases and the virus now well into the community spread phase, there is serious concern for the returnees, some of whom might be homeless or have tenuous family ties.

“We are very concerned because we are aware that once landed, too many of these people have no family or friends returning to,” said Jaddoo.

“It does beg the question whether or not the Home Office really committed to righting the wrongs, which it has committed, particularly to Jamaicans, because families are on tenterhooks and in fear for the safety of their loved ones.”

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com