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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 September, 2003, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Exiled islanders 'may sleep rough'
Diego Garcians camp out at Gatwick
A group of about 30 islanders camped out at Gatwick in July
A group of exiled islanders has warned they may end up on the streets after money to pay for their accommodation runs out.

About 30 people from the remote island of Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean, camped out at Gatwick Airport when they arrived in Britain in July.

The High Court then ruled that West Sussex County Council must pay for about 50 islanders to stay in a hotel while they fight the British government in the courts.

But the money is due to run out on Monday - meaning the group, who are all British citizens, will have to leave their accommodation in Gossops Green, Crawley.

Homes and jobs

The Diego Garcians were forced to leave their home in the 1960s and 1970s when it was taken over by the British government for a British and American military base.

They were exiled to Mauritius, but now high unemployment there has prompted them to travel to Britain to fight for a return to their island home.

Allen Vincatassin, of the Diego Garcian Council, said the islanders had been trying to find homes and jobs in Crawley but now faced sleeping rough.

He said: "Many of them have been unlucky.

Allen Vincatassin
Mr Vincatassin said the exiles were trying hard to find jobs and homes

"Because they don't speak good English, many of them have not been able to get a good job and arrange to get into a house, which in this area is very expensive."

The exiles are now the responsibility of Crawley Borough Council, which says it is already struggling to find accommodation for homeless people in the area.

Mark Robinson, of Crawley Borough Council, said: "What we have to do is make sure that the Diego Garcians are dealt with in exactly the same way as anybody else.

"Their treatment has been no different to any other person who comes to Crawley with a homelessness application.

"We have to give them the right advice, we need to encourage them to go and try to find private rented accommodation."

Council to pay for exiled islanders
28 Aug 03  |  Southern Counties
Exiled islanders put up in hotels
20 Jul 03  |  Southern Counties
Islanders camp out at Gatwick
09 Jul 03  |  Southern Counties
Islanders in Diego Garcia stand-off
30 Jun 02  |  Monitoring
The Chagos Islands: A sordid tale
03 Nov 00  |  Politics

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