Secret talks to return islanders after 40 years

 

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The Independent Online

British diplomats are negotiating with the Americans to ensure exiled inhabitants of the Chagos Islands are offered the chance of jobs on the strategic US airbase of Diego Garcia, The Independent can reveal.

A deal to ensure vacancies for civilian staff at the base are available to islanders, who were forcibly removed from the Indian Ocean archipelago more than 40 years ago to make way for the airbase installation, is part of the measures being taken by the UK Foreign Office to ensure Chagossians have "ongoing involvement" with the territory.

Campaigners criticised the package, saying jobs would be poorly paid and failed to address the longstanding requests of Chagossians, who are UK citizens, to have the right to return to the islands and be awarded compensation.

The European Court of Human Rights will rule next month on whether the British government violated basic rights when evictions were carried out.

David Snoxell, co-ordinator of the Chagos Islands All Party Parliamentary Group, said: "These measures have been talked about for years and don't add up to a row of beans."

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