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50+ Chagossians Arrive in UK Shelters, Seeking New Home



50+ Chagossians Arrive in UK Shelters, Seeking New Home
Image source: Le Mauricien

British authorities have been housing Chagossians in emergency shelters, including a recreation center in West Sussex, after they arrived in London with their British passports.

According to the BBC, this development came after the UK government launched a plan for British citizenship for Chagossians in November 2022.

The British authorities claimed that their directives to British citizens of Chagossian origin, who are settling in the UK, stipulated that they must make their own arrangements for accommodation before traveling.

However, recent arrivals at Gatwick Airport have been met with a constant stream of Chagossians, with dozens now being housed by Crawley Borough Council.

A spokesperson for the council explained that after evaluating everyone’s legal obligations regarding housing, some individuals were offered emergency housing.

Others were not eligible for housing but had nowhere else to go, leading the council to create a temporary shelter for them.

The UK government granted British passports to Chagossians to recognize the role played by Britain in their expulsion from the Chagos Islands in the 1960s and 1970 to allow for the construction of an American military base.

This move was also seen as a way to destabilize Mauritius’s claim to sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago, which is recognized under international law.

One of the Chagossian women housed at the recreation center in West Sussex told the BBC that “in Mauritius, it’s very difficult. There’s a high inflation rate. We want to work, but there are no opportunities for us.”

Misley Mandarin, a representative of BIOT Citizens, told the BBC that families with children were being housed in hotels and that 52 single adult men were being accommodated at the recreation center. However, this figure is disputed by Crawley Borough Council.

According to BIOT Citizens, the arrivals knew that there was a housing crisis in the UK. “What we’re saying is that our home is not the UK. Our home is not Mauritius. Our home is used as the largest Western military base,” said Mandarin.

The British government claimed that they are working with local authorities to help manage the new arrivals. The council spokesperson described the situation as a challenge made more difficult by Crawley’s housing crisis. In February, the council was the first in England to declare a housing emergency.

Source: Le Mauricien

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