SHELTER BOUND: Majority of deportees from the UK have ‘nowhere to go’

Escorted into the Special Operations Unit on Merrion Road in St. Andrew, a shuttle transporting Jamaican deportees arrive on Tuesday before being processed and released. (Photo: Tyrone Simms/BUZZ)

Eight Jamaicans who returned to the island on a charter flight from the United Kingdom on Tuesday (Feb 11) are being housed at the Open Arms Shelter in Kingston as the realisation that they have nowhere to go finally set in.

According to an official, the eight had to be sent to the shelter because no one came to receive them following their deportation and they could not remain at the Special Operations Unit on Merrion Road where they were processed.

This elderly man, with a crown of grey hair, was among the 17 Jamaicans forcibly removed from the United Kingdom on a charter flight to Kingston. (Photo: Tyrone Simms/BUZZ)

Homelessness has been a reality for persons deported to Jamaica after spending most of their lives in a foreign country.

Seventeen Jamaicans were deported from the UK, 16 men and a lone woman. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the now-repatriated Jamaicans as “foreign criminals”.

The deportees, many of whom had been living in the UK for decades, shunned the media—hiding behind multiple layers of clothing, masks and headwear. It is not clear if they did this out of shame or a desire to protect their identity.

Received by his family from St. Thomas, a man walked protected by his sister after having been deported from the United Kingdom on Tuesday. The man was among 17 Jamaicans repatriated to the island. (Photo: Tyrone Simms/BUZZ)

They arrived on the island on a chartered flight that landed at the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) in Kingston around midday.

Relatives and friends, who turned up at the processing centre at the Specialised Operations Unit, appeared visually uneasy by the strong media presence outside the facility. Added to their discomfort was the heavy dust whipped up by strong winds.

By any means necessary, the Jamaican deportees shunned the media.

Security was vacuum-tight as the police seemed to be in no mood to entertain any mishaps. The public gym and ATM on the premises were off-limits and every vehicle was screened before being considered for entry.

Not even this Justice of the Peace was without scrutiny at this manned outpost as he attempted to enter the Special Operations Unit on Tuesday. Seventeen Jamaicans were processed at the Merrion Road facility after being deported. (Photo: Tyrone Simms/BUZZ)

The deportees were fed a light meal as police personnel asked family members to present their identification to complete the reintegration process. One by one, the deportees walked out of the Special Operations Unit—their heads hung or covered completely, perhaps out of contempt for the unrelenting media.

Embraced by a relative, this Jamaican man limps away from the Special Operations Unit in St. Andrew after being processed as a deportee. (Photo: Tyrone Simms/BUZZ)

Defensive family members spat insults at what they described as “overeager journalism” as they walked away. As cars rolled up, the deportees who were fortunate enough to have a waiting home, hopped in as they did their best to avoid the cameras.