BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
SEVEN more deportees from the United Kingdom were flown back to Harare yesterday, bringing to 21, the number of Zimbabweans who have been sent back home from the European country so far.
The first batch of Zimbabweans deported by the United Kingdom arrived last month amid reports that some of them were criminals.
This follows an agreement between the British and the Zimbabwean governments to deport 150 Zimbabweans.
The seven deportees arrived at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport aboard a Boeing 767 aircraft and were taken to the Zimbabwe Institute of Public Administration and Management in Darwendale for quarantine before they unite with their families.
“I can confirm that seven people arrived in the country this morning (yesterday) after having been deported from the UK,” Foreign Affairs ministry spokesperson Constance Chemwayi said.
“We are, however, not aware of when the next batch is due for deportation. Those who have just arrived are now under the custody of the Public Service ministry.”
UK-based human rights groups have, however, expressed grave concern over the Home Office’s decision to deport the Zimbabweans, warning that their safety was not guaranteed in their home country as some were asylum seekers.
Some of the people awaiting deportation claimed they fled Zimbabwe due to human rights violations and were likely to be persecuted, but government said they were criminals who had been released after serving jail terms in UK prisons.
In several petitions trying to halt the deportations, rights activists said there were some morally upright and formally employed Zimbabweans, who were being overshadowed by a political ploy by government to regard them as criminals.
The seven deportees arrived in the country amid reports that some of those who arrived earlier were homeless, after failing to locate their relatives.