Crawley Chagos community not allowed to return home

Sabrina Jean
Sabrina Jean

The Supreme Court has ruled against allowing the exiled people of the Chagos Islands to return home after a decades-long battle.

Crawley MP Henry Smith said he was ‘very disappointed’ after the UK’s highest court upheld an earlier ruling by the House of Lords which said banning the Chagossians from living in their homeland was legal.

Sabrina Jean, Chagos Refugee Group UK Branch chairman, said most of the 3,000 Chagossians who live in Crawley would have moved back to the islands in the Indian Ocean.

Henry Smith MP tweeted: “Very dissappointed that the UK Supreme Court has not upheld the right of return for Chagos Islanders to the British Indian Ocean Territory.”

The islanders were evicted from their home to make way for a US naval base 50 years ago.

Sabrina, of Crawley, said they started moving to the town after word spread of its services in 2002.

Crawley now hosts an international football team - The Chagos Island football team - which has qualified for The Conderation of Independent Football Associations World Football Cup.

Speaking before the Supreme Court hearing, Sabrina Jean had been optimistic. She said: “I think we will get resettlement.”

She added:“Most of them would look to return back.

“Some of them would look to go and see and then decide.”

Mr Smith, who is vice-chair of the Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group, asked the Prime Minister to raise the issue with US president Barack Obama during his UK visit on April 20.

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