Pope speaks up on Chagos dispute

Pope Francis has intervened on the dispute over the future of the Chagos Islands, speaking after a papal trip to Mauritius. Chagossians were involved in a papal mass in Mauritius, at the request of the Vatican following discussions with Chagos Refugees Group leader Olivier Bancoult.

In remarks that are being widely interpreted as urging the United Kingdom to cede control of the Chagos Islands to Mauritius, the Pope stated that:

“It’s true that not always things that seem ‘just’ for all of humanity are ‘just’ for our pockets.But you must obey international institutions.”

He was speaking in response to a question on the Chagos situation from a journalist. During his visit, he also met Mauritian government figures who thanked him for his "moral support" on the issue.

His reference to "international institutions" appears to refer to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and United Nations General Assembly verdicts which stated the United Kingdom should cede control and sovereignty of the Chagos Islands to Mauritius in the next few months.

Members of the Chagossian community have previously met with Pope Francis and senior Vatican officials to discuss their long fight for justice and return. In 2017, Olivier Bancoult described a meeting as "very positive."

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