Policy Review

In December 2012, the UK government announced its intention to review resettlement policy towards the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). The Government has now announced its decision through a Written Ministerial Statement on 16 November 2016 against resettlement of the Chagossians to BIOT on the grounds of feasibility, defence and security interests, and the cost to the British tax payer.

The Government has considered this complex issue very closely, including with an independent feasibility study of the practicalities of resettlement and a public consultation, which sought to better gauge the demand for resettlement by illustrating the most realistic way in which resettlement would hypothetically take place. The Government looked carefully at the practicalities of setting up a small remote community on low-lying islands and the challenges they would face. The Government was particularly concerned about the difficulty of establishing modern public services; the limited healthcare and education that it would be possible to provide, which would be difficult for any new population and especially elderly Chagossians returning to the islands; and the lack of realistic economic opportunities.

The Government will instead seek to support improvements to the livelihoods of Chagossians in the communities where they now live and have agreed to fund a package of approximately £40 million over the next ten years to achieve this goal. Officials are now liaising with Chagossian communities in the UK and overseas and aim to work closely with the Governments involved to develop cost-effective programmes which will make the biggest improvement in the life chances of those Chagossians who need it most.