Thousands of Chagossians would leave Crawley for homeland, says community leader

A community leader says thousands of Chagossians would leave Crawley if the Government allows them return to their homeland in the Indian Ocean.

Wednesday, 27th April 2016, 1:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th April 2016, 2:34 pm

Chagos Refugee Group UK Branch chairman Sabrina Jean said most of the 3,000 who live in the town wanted to move back to the Chagos Islands.

She said she was confident No. 10 would allow them to return after Crawley MP Henry Smith raised the issue with David Cameron last week.

The islanders were evicted from the the British Indian Ocean Territory to make way for a US naval base 50 years ago.

Chagos Island national football team SUS-161204-092710002

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.

Sabrina Jean said: “It’s been 50 years yes, but I am confident.

“I think we will get resettlement - everyone who want to return back to the Chagos Islands are free to go.

Chagos Island national football team SUS-161204-092710002

“Most of them would look to return back.

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

Henry Smith asked the Prime Minister to raise the issue with US president Barack Obama last Wednesday (April 20).

Mr Smith, who is vice-chair of the Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group, said a government report had concluded the islanders had the right of resttlement and added: “Will he [Cameron] raise the case of US assistance of the right of return to the Chagos Islanders to the British Indian Ocean Territory?”

Mr Cameron said: “I certainly will be discussing this issue and I know that it’s right that my honourable friend raises this because they are Chagossians who live in his constituency of Crawley.

“What the National Security Council and the cabinet have been doing is looking at the situation of the Chagossian islanders and reviewing all of the options of how we can help with their future.

“Those discussion have been taken and obviously we will need to come to a conclusion of the best forward.”

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