Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith said that the Jamaica High Commission in the UK continues to actively engage with various advocacy groups to ensure the British Government follows through on promises made to members of the diaspora involved in the Windrush scandal.
The Empire Windrush is the ship that brought the first 500 Caribbean migrants to British shores in 1948 to help rebuild after World War II. Tens of thousands of migrants from the region who arrived legally in the UK until 1973 later found themselves facing a government crackdown on illegal immigrants in 2018.
While speaking at a panel discussion yesterday (May 25) celebrating the 75th anniversary of Windrush, the minister said that the Government will continue to keep the matter at the forefront of discussions with the UK Government.
She noted that having contributed so much to building the UK economy, “the Windrush generation and their descendants, as well as the government of Jamaica and concerned governments across the Caribbean, were rightfully angered by the immigration policy that negatively affected the Windrush generation who throughout the years, had exercised so much forbearance and gave so much.”
“We are pleased therefore, that particularly since 2017, positive resolutions have been achieved. The struggle for justice has been greatly assisted by strong and sustained advocacy and lobby efforts by a wide cross-section of stakeholders,” said Johnson Smith.
She noted that in 2019 the British Government sought to correct the matter by launching the Windrush compensation scheme and the Windrush community fund that was set up to strengthen and drive a public awareness campaign on the scheme.
Additionally, the UK Government instituted the Windrush lessons learned review along with its comprehensive improvement plan all for restitution for the generation of Windrush and descendants.
The foreign minister said that while Jamaica is pleased with the measures taken by the UK, more needs to be done to right the wrongs.
“The Windrush generation did not just answer Britain’s call for help to stabilize and fix its post war economy, they did so much more, enriching the social, cultural, political and religious life of Britain…It was the Windrush Generation that revitalized many towns and areas in Britain, including in London, the now vibrant Notting Hill. It was our culture, our energy, and our beings that changed the flavour of Britain,” she said.
She added that the mass migration also contributed to Jamaica’s development because it laid the foundation for what is now a robust Jamaican diaspora, spanning several generations.