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UK government questioned on Chagossian involvement in Chagos Islands conservation


Glasgow North MP Patrick Grady has asked the government for details of Chagossian involvement in environmental protection of their homeland. In response to a series of questions (full text at bottom of this article) from the SNP MP, Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan admitted only 8 Chagossians have taken part in environmental protection programmes since 2012.

He added that none of these had taken place in 2018. The Minister suggested that the government "encourage scientific expeditions to include participants of Chagossian heritage" and "are looking at ways to promote further opportunities to Chagossians.​"

Government consultations on Chagossian attitudes to returning to their homeland in recent years (which found a strong preference for return) also acknowledged a strong commitment amongst the community to protecting the environment of their homeland.

When Chagossians were asked what jobs they would be interested in and capable of doing if allowed to return, many cited environmental protection and eco-tourism. Equally, KPMG, who conducted a government-commissioned feasibility study in to Chagossian return, acknowledged a great preference within the community for measures that would protect the unique environment of the islands.

With all this in mind, it's absolutely vital Chagossians are offered central roles in any environmental projects concerning their homeland. Of course Chagossians should also be allowed to take up their natural role as guardians of the unique environment of their homeland.

But the very least the UK government can do is provide the opportunity for Chagossians to connect with their heritage, learn new skills and have a say of the future of their homeland.

Full text and response on Patrick Grady's questions to the Foreign Office

British Indian Ocean Territory: Ilois Foreign and Commonwealth Office Written Answer 14 Jun 2018 Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether Chagossians have participated in any conservation, enforcement, or science work in the Chagos Islands area as envisaged by his Department's 2015 consultation paper. Alan Duncan Minister of State Since 2012 eight people of Chagossian heritage have visited the British Indian Ocean Territory for scientific or conservation purposes. British Indian Ocean Territory: Ilois Foreign and Commonwealth Office Written Answer 14 Jun 2018 Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how many Chagossians have been invited to participate in scientific expeditions to the Chagos Archipelago in 2018 to date. Alan Duncan Minister of State Although we encourage scientific expeditions to include participants of Chagossian heritage, no Chagossians have been invited to participate in scientific expeditions to the British Indian Ocean Territory in 2018 to date. British Indian Ocean Territory: Ilois Foreign and Commonwealth Office Written Answer 14 Jun 2018 Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will take steps to ensure that scientific organisations granted permission to work in the British Indian Ocean Territory include Chagossian participants. Alan Duncan Minister of State We encourage scientific groups to include Chagossians and participants from the wider Indian Ocean region in expeditions to the British Indian Ocean Territory and we are looking at ways to promote further opportunities to Chagossians.​

#Chagos #Chagossian #Environment #ChagosIslands #SNP #Parlaiment

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