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UK announces new feasibility study into resettlement of the British Indian Ocean Territory

Tuesday, July 9th 2013 - 05:58 UTC
Full article 21 comments

The British government announced to Parliament that it will commission a new feasibility study into the resettlement of the British Indian Ocean Territory, BIOT, whose indigenous population the Chagossian was removed in the sixties and early seventies for defense reasons and is an issue that remains highly controversial and sensitive. Read full article


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  • trenchtoast

    Indigenous my arse....! Just give them the an Island and a six pack of Evian and lets be done with this sorry saga.

    Jul 09th, 2013 - 07:19 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Kilkenny man

    It is nice to see the Uk Government challenging the rhetoric of certain elements with axes to grind. Their is a recognition that the removal may not have been done correctly , however it is unrealistic of a group of people indigenous or other wise to expect to be bank rolled indefinitely as the surveys suggested at the time. They were adequately compensated at the time to limit liability as all subsequent court cases have borne out . However if it is possible for the population to return and be self sufficient with a limited cost that is also the right thing to do lack of fresh water is a very difficult issues to over come for a poor community. The main issue is it possible for the population to gain a livening without being dependent on the Base, again it is worth looking at to show what ever the rights and wrongs of the past the right thing is been done now and if this is as I suspect just another way to extort some more cash the gravy train once and for all should be permanently derailed.

    Jul 09th, 2013 - 07:28 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Martin Woodhead

    No they werent the money went to the mauritian goverment and disappeared it was a shabby episode which shames the uk. putting it right is the right thing to do.
    As we spend millions defending the falklands spending a couple of million giving chaoggisans the islands back is small change and the US military can foot the bill

    Jul 09th, 2013 - 08:52 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Kilkenny man

    3. Agree the right thing should be done , but if we have an issue and I compensate you and some one else takes the money should I be castigated or do you need to take it up with the other party... Don't get me wrong if their is a responsibility it should be meet but let's not allow the peanut gallery exploit doing the right thing.
    The question is and should be could the population survive and be financially independently if the can then they should be allowed to return if the cant they should not as that would be creating an unsustainable population which would have to be supported indefinitely and let's face it this base may go on of another 50 years or may be gone in 10 sobering thought if their children's lives depend on it...

    Jul 09th, 2013 - 09:34 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • lsolde

    lf all this is settled to the Chagossians satisfaction, then the malvinistas will have to look for another weapon to use against the UK govt & the Falklands! lol!

    Jul 09th, 2013 - 09:45 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Biguggy

    @ 5 lsolde
    It is my understanding that the majority of the Islanders are now happy with 'the settlement', however there are a few 'holdouts', who I understand 'want more', how much of that is their own free wishes and how much is induced by lawyers I do not know.
    One thing I am willing to bet on is that the majority of the lawyers are not working for nothing!

    Jul 09th, 2013 - 10:20 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Nostros

    I welcome this move, perhaps a dirty mark on our recent history although again some of the facts of this are a little bit grey in areas; it is argued that these people are not indigenous, that aside it is there home and they should be allowed to go home, I say we strike a deal on defence etc like we have in place for Gib and the Falklands, work with the population and employ them to some degree to work on behalf of BOT in some way to promote good relations - environment is a good area to do this, I also think it about time to invest in some of the territories, I know some places such as St Helenea recently got £500m to build an airport, that bodes well for the future, we need to embrace these people from all of the BOT's they are British Citizens also, and with that they should have British rights and cooperation, which I am sure they are willing to do. I do think this current government has done more in 2 years to recognise these places and these people than the last 10 years of labour, at least William Hauge's white paper goes someway towards creating a better future for all of our people. I do think he is the best man for the job. Lets resolve this and move on.

    Jul 09th, 2013 - 10:24 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Conqueror

    Taking on board everyone's comments, it's hard to see how this could be “resolved” to the satisfaction of those referred to as “holdouts”. Are there enough of them to create a viable population? What about the lack of fresh water? What are they going to DO? Their previous “occupation” was as contract labourers on coconut plantations. I doubt there are enough of them for that. Here's a thought. If they want to be “re-settled”, should they have to repay any compensation they have received? And if the Mauritian government of the day stole the British money handed over to resettle the “islanders” in Mauritius, shouldn't it be required to pay that money back, plus interest? And what is the current nationality status of these “islanders”? Did they have British passports at the time or, for those that have come to the UK in pursuit of more money, have they obtained them since? It should not be overlooked that, in time, this problem will go away all by itself. Can't claim to be an “islander” if you've never lived there!

    Jul 09th, 2013 - 11:04 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Anglotino

    Rare is the government that admits it made a mistake and tries to rectify it even a generation later.

    The UK government is owning its past actions and not blaming and disowning them because they were made by someone else a la Argentina's government blaming and disowning actions of past juntas.

    Jul 09th, 2013 - 11:36 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Islander1

    Marcos - please can you advise us as to when the Arg Govt will now also be rethinking past errors and starting to look again at the rights of people who have peacefully settled a group of Islands for nearly 2 centuries?

    Jul 09th, 2013 - 01:19 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • GeoffWard2

    I think the UK Polaris nuclear loaded missiles were part of the trade-off to get the US military into Diego Garcia.
    The removal of the local inhabitants - the Chagossians - was part of the deal. The subsequent creation of the archipeligo marine reserve was in part designed to remove the potential for return of this fishing community.
    Its hard to see that the US (the dominant population of the island) would wish to leave the islands now the Chinese are making inroads into the Indian Ocean and rapidly expanding their naval resources.

    The feasibility study into resettlement of the fishing community may be an unrealistic palliative.


    Jul 09th, 2013 - 02:03 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • reality check

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing, the world was a different place in the 60's.

    Days away from nuclear war with the Cuban Missile Crisis, make no mistake it nearly came to it! It nearly happened, we forget that!

    I suppose the UK government at the time thought they were doing the right thing with DG.

    Things have moved on since then, if a wrong, a wrong for the best of intentions, can be revisited and put right. Then perhaps it should be.

    Though I must say, the current attitude of modern UK governments apologising for the actions of their predecessors does worry me. How far are we going to go back? are we setting a precedent that today's people are responsible for the action of those that went before us?

    I am all for justice, but it seems to me that a line has to be drawn somewhere?

    Jul 09th, 2013 - 03:27 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Clyde15
    Taken from the above in respect of water supplies on Chagos Islands.
    2.4.2 Water supply
    Chagossians who lived on the Islands describe two sources of water: rainwater tanks and wells. There is no fresh water on the surface of coral islands but rainfall sinks through the limestone and forms a layer (or lens) floating on salt water,
    thereby supporting plants and allowing wells to be dug. On Ile de Coin and Ile Boddam, Posford Haskoning estimated that such fresh water sources could support 3,000 and 1,500 residents respectively. There were concerns, however,
    about the risk to the water table from uncontrolled extraction, the reliability of data on rainfall and recharge to groundwater, and the possible contamination of the aquifer due to shallow water tables and permeable sands.
    Rainwater harvesting was largely ignored in the earlier studies, although this also has potential contamination problems and, because of variability in rainfall, is best treated as a supplementary source of water for domestic use.
    The most reliable alternative for water supply is desalination of sea water. As a result of technological developments and growing competition in the industry, the cost of installing desalination plants has come down significantly. Using estimates
    from other small island requirements and construction costs, it is estimated that a
    plant producing 350 cubic meters a day is sufficient for all possible uses on Peros Banhos. Including a storage tank to hold 5 days supply, the cost is estimated at £250,000, well below the cost per unit estimated in the 2000 feasibility study.
    The important cost, however, is operational: not only power supply but also maintenance. Water charges would be prohibitive for low income users and, for this reason alone, grants for supplementary rainwater tanks for domestic users should be considered

    Jul 09th, 2013 - 05:12 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Briton

    Providing their is not to many, cant the government talk to the people, rather that the lawyers, who are only interested in the money,

    I suppose we will just have to wait and see what the outcome of this study tells us. ??

    Just a thought..

    Jul 09th, 2013 - 06:46 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Marcos Alejandro

    10 Islander1
    Past errors? I am sure we made many, but never invaded any country around the globe nor killed millions as England did.

    Jul 10th, 2013 - 03:31 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Monkeymagic


    Marcos you invaded Argentina and then added Patagonia killing millions as you went,,,,then you deny others (who killed noone) the same right the self determination you used to justify your genocide.

    Jul 10th, 2013 - 04:17 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • LEPRecon

    @15 Marcos

    Argentina, indeed most of South America, was the product of the Spanish empire, which murdered its way through that sub-continent.

    Argentina, after declaring independence, continued to murder its way through the continent, committing acts of genocide.

    In 1982 Argentina invaded British sovereign territory and threaten to ethnically cleanse those islands.

    In fact, Argentina, by refusing to acknowledge your own history and therefore refusing to learn by it, are a far more dangerous people than the British (not English - it was the British Empire).

    Argentina is a very aggressive country, and your neighbours thank God everyday that you military capabilities do not match your arrogance and rhetoric.

    Jul 10th, 2013 - 06:37 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • GeoffWard2

    The key 'Feasibility' of the study is the feasibility of getting the USA military to leave (see #11).

    If this happens the water availability issue becomes solved by the use of plant left in place following the US withdrawal.
    The archipelago marine reserve, which covers the seas around the atolls, has been quoted by the UK Government as ''reversible' as and when the situation changes'.

    But this is all academic; the US will never leave,
    and the UK are using their feasibility study to pass the responsibility (but not ownership) over to the USA.
    This is an exercise in 'hand washing'.

    Jul 10th, 2013 - 08:03 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • lsolde

    Marcos is a typical malvinista hypocrite.
    Don't take too much notice of him, in fact any of the malvinidiots, anymore.
    They have no sense or right or wrong, no morals & no sense.
    Bitter, frustrated & twisted because they cannot get their own way.
    Really not much point debating with them as they get nasty & childish when you confront them.
    Oh well, its entertaining in a way! lol

    Jul 10th, 2013 - 08:29 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Rufus

    @15 Marcos.

    Remind me, how long have the Misiones and Formosa provinces been part of Argentina? How about Rio Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz?

    Jul 10th, 2013 - 10:07 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Monkeymagic


    The worst possible result of this would be it to be deemed feasible for the “Chagossians” to “return”. Seriously? you think they want to?

    The 2013 Chagossians can be split into multiple groups.

    1) Those who have tenous at best links with the islands, perhaps an ancestor once visited there
    2) a genuine Chagos inhabitant or descendent who accpted full and final settlement and accept the status quo
    3) a genuine Chagos inhabitant or descendent who accepted full and final settlement but think they are entitled to more
    4) a genuine Chagos inhabitant or descendent who never accepted full and final settlement and think they are entitled to more money, british citizenship, etc etc
    5) a genuine Chagos inhabitant or descendent who never accepted full and final settlement and wants to return

    The VAST majority fit into the first 3 categories...tough fucking luck.

    The fourth group, you might actually get something, you might not...

    the fifth group are actually majority fourth groupers who might get their bluff guess is that there are fewer than 20 who'd actually go live there if we freed up an island or two.

    Jul 10th, 2013 - 12:01 pm - Link - Report abuse 0

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