Two new BBC podcasts explore Chagossian struggle
In the past few weeks, two new BBC podcasts have addressed different aspects of the Chagossian community's painful history and present struggle for justice.
BBC Africa's The Comb released an episode entitled, 'Chagos Islands: Africa’s last British colony?' which examined the impact of the 2019 International Court of Justice and United Nations General Assembly directives instructing the United Kingdom to cede sovereignty of the Chagos Islands to Mauritius.
The impact of the deportation, and the failure of state actors to deliver sufficient support for the Chagossian deportees, was also explored in interviews with several Chagossians now living in the Seychelles. One Chagossian recalls how they had to "live in the forest" before they were able to afford housing.
Meanwhile, an episode of BBC World Service's Newsday, speaks with Chagossians about the contemporary problems the community faces in the UK. Listen to the full episode here, or listen to the section focusing on the Chagossian community below.
Emmanuel Ally explains how extremely high visa and citizenship costs for his generation - the grandchildren of Chagossians deported from their homeland - forces many into poverty, debt and even crime.
This is a direct consequence of the deportation, as if Chagossians had remained on the islands, Chagossians like Emmanuel would be entitled to a much cheaper, simpler path to British citizenship.
A Private Members Bill by Conservative Crawley MP Henry Smith sought to address this issue by giving all Chagossian descendents the same path to British citizenship, but in spite of recommendations from the Home Affairs Select Committee, the government has not enacted the measures within the bill, officially known as the British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill.
During the programme, Chagossians, and the aforementioned Henry Smith MP, also voice their dissatisfaction about the failure of the UK government to deliver a promised £40m Support Package promised to the community in 2016.
The implications of the sovereignty dispute between Mauritius and the UK over the Chagos Islands are also discussed. And it is noted that there is a diversity of opinion amongst the Chagossian community, with some Chagossians preferring the islands to remain under British control.
Other Chagossians have publicly supported Mauritian sovereignty over the islands, citing the Mauritian government's commitment to support resettlement of the Chagos Islands.