The Voluntary Advocate for the Chagossian Community in Mauritius believes that it is the descendants of Chagossians settled in England who should have advocated on behalf of those who arrive and find themselves homeless.

What are the main obstacles faced by naturalized Chagossians, in terms of employment and economic stability?
First there is the language barrier. Then, naturalized Chagossians must reside for at least a month in England in order to pass the Habitual Residency Test, allowing them to obtain accommodation. The community lacks support for accessing employment.

I have raised the issue with several companies asking them to organise job fairs. The directors of these companies are aware that Chagossians, naturalised British citizens and holders of British passports, are looking for work. Sometimes these job fairs are held in places that are difficult to access. In addition to this, there is no official website to popularise these events, which is deplorable.

What initiatives have been put in place to support this community in difficulty in terms of housing and living conditions?
Above all, we did not encourage anyone to come to England. But once the passport in hand, some believed that it was a logical next step to set foot in the country of His Majesty King Charles III. As they are part of our community, we cannot remain insensitive to this situation. However, some naturalized Chagossians are helping the homeless.

What about the 33 Chagossians who found refuge at the Northgate centre?
The 33 people staying at the Northgate centre in West Sussex were fortunately not evicted. The council decided to leave the centre for the Chagossians to use so they could get by. They receive no support from the authorities. The community donates food and essentials and they make do with what they have.

What do you think drives them to go on adventures?
The British passport is seen as a lifeline for certain Mauritians who were waiting for a door to open. But the timing just wasn't right. Since obtaining citizenship for the Chagossians, we have made many people aware of the preparations for moving to England. It's a shame that, despite our advice, many Chagossians were fooled…

In the end, whose fault is it?
I am simply pointing the finger at those behind the brainwashing. As I have often repeated, the fault is not with the British government and even less with the descendants of Chagossians who wanted to grant themselves a new life by setting foot in England. I strongly deplore those who have promised, and still promise, the moon.

Yet there are Chagossians who have been established in England for decades…
You're absolutely right. We could have put pressure on the Chagossians and descendants of Chagossians already established in England to help those who disembarked, out of solidarity. That would be the best thing to do, because they already have a house. It is the established Chagossians who should have played the frontliners.

Is there any possibility of making up for it?
Yes. The descendants simply have to unite. Besides, we are all fighting for a common cause: the recognition of the existence of the Chagossian people and better living conditions for Chagossians in England. I also advocate for the recognition of non-Chagossian spouses married to descendants of Chagossians. You know, the majority of Chagossians are married to non-Chagossians, which makes things even more difficult when it comes to leaving.

The final word ?
I hope that the descendants will become aware of the situation and do justice and honor to our elders.

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