Chagossian family fighting deportation threat raises £8,000
Chagossian family fighting for citizenship rights Crowdfunding reaches target
A Chagossian family fighting for UK citizenship have managed to reach their £8,000 target in a Crowdfunding campaign. These funds will be used to help with legal costs and the extremely high fees associated with acquiring UK citizenship.
Those costs are uncertain though, so any further donations would be appreciated by the family, who have pledged to return any unused funding to other families in similar situations. You can chip in on the JustGiving website.
Jeanette Valentin started her campaign to prevent her daughters Taniella and Nesta facing years of legal limbo, unable to work or continue their studies, when they turn 18. Her daughters would even be at risk of deportation to the Seychelles, a country where they now have little family or support network.
Jeanette came to the UK as a British citizen, owing to her mother being born on Diego Garca, then a British colony. But because Jeanette, as a consequence of the deportation, was born in the Seychelles, her children are not entitled to British citizenship.
So although they came to the country legally as her children, and have passed through the schooling system in the UK with considerable success, now they near their 18th birthday they worry about being unable to access work or further employment opportunities. And eventually being forced to leave their home and go live in the Seychelles.
But Jeanette’s campaign has garnered considerable media attention, including from ITV (see video above). Poet and UK Chagos Support Association patron Benjamin Zephaniah also wrote a powerful article about her case in The Guardian.
All this has helped raise the profile of Jeanette and other Chagossian families in a similar situation. Many journalists and commentators have noted the comparison with the plight of the ‘Windrush’ generation, including Richard Vaughan of the 'i' newspaper.
Conservative MP for Crawley, Henry Smith, has thousands of Chagossians constituents and has proposed a change in the law which would allow descendants of people born a clear, simpler and cheaper path to British citizenship. Following the recommendation of the Home Affairs Select Committee that this should be made law, Home Secretary Sajid Javid pledged to “consider” the change carefully and has also met with Mr Smith to discuss the matter further.
We urge the UK government to commit to give all Chagossians access to UK citizenship. It is the least the authorities can do after half a century of neglect.
In the meantime, we salute that people done the right thing and taken action, where the British authorities have been negligent. We must continue to fight for families like Jeanette’s.