Mother of sick boy among deportees despite living in UK for 25 years, newspaper reports
Arrangements in place for deportees, say Jamaican officials
A woman who has lived in the United Kingdom for more than 25 years and whose son suffers from a serious blood disorder, is reported to be among the Jamaican deportees scheduled to arrive in the island today – International Women’s Day.
A report in yesterday’s online edition of The Independent newspaper said that the mother of three, who asked to be identified only by her first name – Sophia – “is being held at the notorious Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre ahead of a secretive charter flight, which is expected to take around 100 people to the Caribbean country”.
“The 47-year-old’s youngest son, who is 13, has sickle cell disease,” The Independent reported, adding that the boy’s sister, Ruth, told the newspaper that he had been taken to hospital with severe pain three times, after he witnessed his mother taken away by police in October.
“Sophia, whose indefinite leave to remain in the UK was revoked after she committed a non-violent crime, has been told by the Home Office that she can either take her children to live with her in Jamaica, or communicate with them via Skype,” The Independent report states.
“But she believes her youngest son would be unable to access the medication and treatment he needs in Jamaica, where she has no remaining family and fears she would be homeless and destitute.”
The newspaper reported Sophia as saying that while she could not bear the thought of being separated from her children, she is “really, really scared” of being beaten by male guards if she refuses to board the plane.
“Like Sophia, many of those due to board the highly controversial charter flight have lived in the UK for decades. Some arrived as small children and say they do not remember the country they are being sent back to,” The Independent story said.
Yesterday, security officials in Jamaica sought to calm fears over the planned arrival of the deportees, saying that standard arrangements have been put in place to receive them, including a processing facility at the police Mobile Reserve, as well as a case manager assigned to assist in the reintegration process.
At the same time, permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security Dianne McIntosh said the ministry “acknowledges the sensitive nature of the circumstances, and has always respected the individuals’ rights to be reunited with family and friends away from the glare of publicity”.
“Our practice has always been to afford families to have the space and time to recover from the trauma of the displacement. We call therefore on all Jamaicans to respect this private time because not all the returned Jamaicans wish to have their circumstances revealed,” McIntosh added.
The national security and foreign ministries said in a news release yesterday that since September 2016, a total of 152 people were deported to Jamaica from the UK.