• Peri Batliwala

Injustice Upon Injustice: Inside Housing feature on Chagossian housing issues in Crawley

A recent article at the end of August 2017 in ‘Inside Housing’ by journalist Peter Apps, explores the ongoing injustice of housing conditions of the displaced Chagos islanders in Crawley.

Aptly named ‘Injustice upon injustice: the story of the Chagos Islanders’, it deftly summarises the Chagossian tragedy for those new to the issue, and then focuses on the struggles of a typical family to get decent, appropriate housing for its four members.

For the past seven years the Nairainen family have all been crammed into one room, sharing a kitchen with another family in the same house, while the private housing rent they pay is unregulated and variable.

Worse, they have been subjected to harassment and hostility from ignorant housing officers who have not understood the unique history of the Chagossian presence in UK, ironically asking them ‘Why can’t you go back to where you came from?’.

Another issue highlighted is Crawley Council’s reluctance to recognise the right of the displaced islanders to a place on the housing list, labelling them as ‘intentionally homeless’ as they left Mauritius to come here to be with family, or find work.

This well researched and informative investigation into the housing problems faced the UK Chagossians is a sobering reminder of how the injustice and ill treatment of this community is another ongoing scandal in a story that is one of the most shameful scandals in this country’s recent history.

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