In Parliament: Questions raised about Chagossian return
Ministers have made fresh comments on Chagossian access to their homeland in recent weeks. In response to a Written Question from Lord Ramsbotham, Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay said it was "unlikely that approval would be granted... for an civilian aircraft carrying visitors to the Island."
This was in response to a question asking whether the UK government could charter a plane to support Chagossians to visit and work in the Chagos Islands. The question and answer can be seen in full on Parliament's website. The response is surprising, as we have previously heard from Ministers that fuller, longer visits to the Chagos Islands for Chagossians would be a key part of the £40m support package offered to the community following the government's decision not back a return programme last year. We have asked the Foreign Office for clarification. It is also notable that the answer refers directly to Diego Garcia, rather than 'the Chagos Islands' which was referred to in the questions. Visits to and work on those outer islands (environmental protection and management for example) could be a highly viable option for Chagossians which is not addressed in the answer.