Overwhelming backing for return from Chagossians in new Government report
98 per cent of Chagossians back resettlement of their homeland, according to the summary of an official UK Government consultation with the Chagossian community published on 21st January.
This puts paid to doubts Government Ministers had raised over Chagossian demand for resettlement.
The summary document also acknowledges a “range of practical [professional] skills” which Chagossians could utilise in a renewed economy on the islands.
The report also indicates Chagossians' ambitions to build a career developing their society, stating that “many indicated they would seek training in other areas including tourism, environmental management, and Territory administration.”
“This shows Chagossians have the enthusiasm, skills and determination to make return a reality,” commented UK Chagos Support Association Committee Chair Stefan Donnelly. “Now we just need the Government to make history and give a measure of justice to people too long denied their basic rights, as UK citizens and human beings."
Stefan also reflected that Chagossians' positive response can be seen in the number who would seek work with the US military base or British Indian Ocean Territory's administration (70 per cent of respondents stated they would consider working in such a capacity)
"In spite of the wrongs of the past, this is clear evidence Chagossians' fight resettlement is first and foremost about future opportunities."
The summary of the consultation responses can be read in full here. (please note some comments attributed to UK Chagos Support Association were not made by us. We assume this is a simple error and we are following it up with the Foreign Office.)
The consultation process was not perfect and we put a number of questions to the Government at the time. The so-called “realistic descriptions” of resettlement suggested Chagossians return could be on highly restrictive terms. Visitors would be unlikely to be permitted and children unlikely to be allowed to return for at least two years.
With this in mind it shows the remarkable determination of the Chagossian people that 25 per cent said they would be willing to return on these terms.
That is over 200 people willing work to develop a new settlement during the two-year “pilot” period outlined in original consultation document. Such a model is only likely to involve 50 people.
The summary refers to a three-month consultation with Chagossian communities around the world. Following this summary publication, Ministers will continue to look at the data and are expected to come to a decision within months.
We hope Chagossians' enthusiastic, committed and pragmatic attitude to returning to their homeland is reflected in the Government's attitude to ending an half a century of human rights abuse.