Chagossians are sleeping in an emergency shelter at a West Sussex leisure center after a “significant number” of them arrived at Gatwick Airport from Mauritius. This is what the BBC reports in an article published this Thursday, June 13.

This follows the Government's launch of a route to British citizenship for people of Chagossian origin in November 2022. The Chagossians were forced to leave their homeland in the 1960s.

The British government has said its guidance to British citizens of Chagossian origin moving to the UK states that they must make their own accommodation arrangements before traveling.

The BBC report says a steady stream of people with British passports have traveled to Gatwick since Monday, with dozens now being accommodated by Crawley Town Council.

A council spokesperson said that following the arrival of a “significant number of people from Mauritius”, all had been assessed against their statutory housing duties.

The British government granted British passports to the Chagossians to recognize Britain's role in expelling the islanders in the 1960s and 1970s in order to build a US military base at Diego Garcia. At the time, most of the population of the islands, which now form the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), were sent to Mauritius.

Misley Mandarin, who heads the BIOT Citizens group, said families with children were being put up in hotels and 52 single adults were at the recreation center.

Crawley council disputed this figure, saying it was “lower”, but did not say how many people it was currently housing.

Mr Mandarin said the arrivals knew “that in the UK there is a housing crisis”. He added: “But what we are saying is that our home is not the United Kingdom. Our home is not Mauritius. Our home is used as the largest military base for the Western world.”

The government said it was working with councils to help them manage the new arrivals. Crawley Council's spokesperson described the situation as “a challenge made more difficult by the housing situation in the town. In February this year, the council was the first in England to declare a housing emergency . These pressures remain unchanged.”

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