Zimbabwe has received the first batch of dozens of its citizens being deported from Britain, some after staying in that country for decades and forced to leave families behind to face an uncertain future back home.
Rights groups and politicians in Britain had mounted pressure to stop the deportations, arguing that the deportees are at risk of persecution in Zimbabwe.
The first group of deported Zimbabweans was people convicted of committing crimes in Britain.
The United Kingdom says it has a right to deport foreigners who commit serious crimes after they serve out their sentences.
Zimbabwean authorities dismissed fears that the returnees would be persecuted.
On Thursday, 14 of the deportees arrived at the main airport in the capital, Harare, and were quickly put into waiting buses to go to a quarantine center where they will stay for 10 days before they can rejoin their families.
Distraught relatives waited outside the Harare airport Thursday but were not able to meet the deportees.
Although there are no exact figures, scores of thousands left Zimbabwe for the UK, the former colonial power, to escape a biting political and economic crisis at the turn of the century.
Many Zimbabweans whose bids for asylum were rejected by Britain also face deportation.