Editorial: Chagos Islanders should be sent home to run new MPA

(David Snoxell, The Guardian) — Your report on the proposed marine protected area for the Chagos archipelago implied that the establishment of such a zone would be at odds with the aspirations of Chagossians to return to their homeland (Good news for the warty sea slug is devastating for Chagos islanders, 30 March). It is not.

It was a splendid idea to create an MPA around the Chagos and provide a green legacy for the prime minister. It demonstrates the government's determination to conserve the unique marine environment of this British overseas territory. How sad that the same concern could not have been shown towards the people who used to live there. To ignore this human dimension, as the foreign secretary's statement announcing the MPA did, supports the suggestion of Clive Stafford Smith, quoted in your article, that "no Chagossian has anything like equal rights with even the warty sea slug".

The islanders have long argued that they would be the best custodians of their environment. Conservation cannot exist in a vacuum in which people and politics do not impinge, especially in Chagos, where issues of human rights, sovereignty, defence and security have dominated for 45 years, and more recently rendition and conservation. An MPA needs people to enforce its regulations. So why not train returning Chagossians in this role?

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