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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 November, 2004, 14:13 GMT
Exiles protest in Downing Street
Diego Garcians demonstrate in Downing Street
Exiled Diego Garcians demonstrate in Downing Street
A group of Diego Garcians fighting to be housed in the UK have protested in Downing Street and attended a debate on their plight at Westminster Hall.

Since arriving at Gatwick last month, dozens of the islanders have had to go to court repeatedly to get local authorities to provide accommodation.

The islanders, who have UK passports, were evicted from Diego Garcia in the 1960s to make way for a US airbase.

Reigate MP Crispin Blunt secured the adjournment debate on Wednesday.

Commons debate

The Conservative MP said: "It must be the responsibility of the government to address this problem and not expect 100,000 people in Reigate and Banstead to pick up the bill for the whole country."

In Westminster, the protesters waved their British passports in the air and chanted: "Tony Blair is a thief. Give us our islands back."

In a test case on Monday, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council was ordered by the High Court to continue housing Nicholas Antoine, 25, pending further hearings over who should bear the cost of housing 33 people.

East Surrey Conservative MP Peter Ainsworth has also secured a debate, to be held in the Commons chamber on Thursday.

Shelter and assistance

Many of the Diego Garcians moved to Mauritius when they were evicted by the British. Others settled in the Seychelles.

The High Court previously ruled that it was not the responsibility of West Sussex County Council to house the islanders.

The county council has offered shelter and assistance to 10 people who have care needs.

Tony Blair has said he feared providing accommodation for Diego Garcians could set a precedent which would lead to funding being expected "across the board".




SEE ALSO:
Exile wins fresh housing battle
01 Nov 04  |  Southern Counties
Aiding exiles 'may set precedent'
27 Oct 04  |  Southern Counties
Garcia exile wins housing battle
25 Oct 04  |  Southern Counties
Islanders given longer in hotel
19 Oct 04  |  Southern Counties


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