Henry Smith

Chagos Advice Centre Opens in Crawley

Posted in Crawley, CRG, DGIC, Henry Smith on July 31st, 2015 by Warren Paull – Be the first to comment
The Pinnacle Office Complex, where you can find the new Chagossian Advice Centre

The Pinnacle Office Complex, where you can find the new Chagossian Advice Centre

Great news for Chagossians in Crawley as an advice centre has opened to help out with some of the many practical challenges faced during day-to-day life in exile. Chagossians who need help with issues including housing, translation, immigration and simply looking for work can can now visit The Pinnacle, Central Court, Station Way, 3rd Floor, Crawley RH10 1JH (near the train station)between 9AM and 3PM Monday to Saturday for free advice.

The office will be jointly run by the leaders of two Chagossian groups, Sabrina Jean of Chagos Refugee Group UK Branch (CRG UK) and Allen Vincatassin of the Diego Garcia Island Council (DGIC).

Each group will run the office the group on different days, with CRG UK there Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The DGIC will run the office Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. To contact CRG UK at the office you can ring 01293763043 and to call DGIC you can ring 01293763042.

The office is marked on the map by the red dot

The office is marked on the map by the red dot

Sabrina Jean, Chairperson of CRG UK, spoke positively about how the opening of the office would impact upon the Chagossian community, saying “We are already in the office helping members of the community with many different problems everyday. Many Chagossians have serious problems in Crawley with visa issues, access to housing and trouble finding jobs. Our advice is free and available to all Chagossians.”

The centre will funded by the administration of the British Indian Ocean Territory, the official UK name for the Chagos Islands. This commitment from a department of the UK Government to offer real support to Chagossians is a welcome move and hopefully it is just the beginning of delivering long-denied justice to Chagossians.

Crawley MP and Vice-Chair of the Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Henry Smith also welcomed the announcement, whilst emphasising his continuing commitment to winning the right to return, commenting that “I’m proud that Crawley has the largest Chagos island community in the world. Whilst we campaign for the right of return I’m pleased that the British Indian Ocean Territory has funded an office in the town to support the community.”

“Steady Progress” on Government work on Chagossian return

Posted in FCO, Feasability Study, Henry Smith, Parliament, resettlement, Return, Return 2015 on July 31st, 2015 by Warren Paull – Be the first to comment

henry smithConservative MP Henry Smith, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Chagos Islands, has asked the Government when they plan to make a decision on the resettlement of the Islands. Earlier this year an independent feasibility study proved that resettlement of the Chagos Islands was possible, a fact acknowledged this week in a letter from Minister for Overseas Territories James Duddridge. Mr Smith is the MP for Crawley, home to largest Chagossian population in the UK.

In the question, copied in below, Mr Smith asks for an update on when the Government will make their promised decision on supporting Chagossian return to their homeland. In his response, Minister Tobias Ellwood claimed that “steady progress” was being made on additional work the Government chose to undertake on the potential for resettlement after the publication of the report. No timeframe was, however, set out.

The question in full

Henry Smith MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, when he plans to announce the Government’s decision on possible resettlement of the British Indian Ocean Territory by Chagos Islanders.

Answered on: 22 July 2015

Tobias Ellwood, Foreign Office Minister : The member for Crawley will note from the written answer of 23 June 2015 (British Indian Ocean Territory: Written question – 2386) given by my honourable friend the Member for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge MP), that steady progress is being made on the further analysis of resettlement of BIOT. There is no date yet when an announcement on possible resettlement will be made.