Government starts new programme to assist deportees

While the country grapples with its crime issues, over 100 Jamaicans are being deported home every month from developed nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, for various reasons.

The situation has been aggravated by reports of mass deportations of Jamaicans who have been living in the United States permanently without the necessary legal instruments, under the Donald Trump Administration.

These “deportees” are not usually greeted with open arms when they return, as there is fear within the country that they could contribute to the crime problems.

So, in order to strengthen the policy, legislative, and institutional framework guiding the management and treatment of involuntary returned migrants to Jamaica, the Ministry of National Security has teamed with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in funding a project called the Reintegration and Rehabilitation of Involuntary Returned Migrants in Jamaica.

The programme, the new project which starts in April and is expected to continue through to March 2019, has received $13.3 million from the UNDP, and an additional approximately $19 million from the ministry, to finance the first phase.

The Estimates of Expenditures, tabled by Finance and Public Service Minister Audley Shaw in Gordon House on February ninth, states that $13.8 million will be spent during the 2017/18 financial year to deal with the treatment of these deportees.

The targets initially envisaged in the programme are: a baseline study and spatial mapping on deported persons; development of minimum standard operating procedures for managing the reintegration of deported migrants; revision of the national deportation policy; development of and submission to Cabinet of a reintegration and rehabilitation strategy; increasing the capacity of NGOs to provide more efficient and effective services to returned migrants.

Other targets are to: prepare a framework and protocol for tracking the reintegration of returned migrants; develop public education material for distribution at help desks in local authorities; and prepare a strategy for including reintegration of returned migrants in the local sustainable development planning process.

The Government says that the $13.8 million to be spent during the next financial year will address: conducting baseline study and spatial mapping; developing minimum standards; commencing consultations with stakeholders in an attempt to revise the national deportation policy; and commencing capacity development activities for the local authorities.

The Prevention and Rehabilitation Programme is a sub-programme of the current Deported Persons Programme.

— Balford Henry

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