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US Sociologists Visit Displaced Community in Mauritius

Panafrican News Agency (Dakar), 13 March 2001

Port Louis, Mauritius - Two US Sociologists Virginia Sadler and Thomas Lynch are in Mauritius to collect information on the displaced Indian Ocean Islands' Chagossian community.

The Chagossians lived on the Chagos archipelago before they were expelled 35 years ago from the islands, some 1,200-km north of Mauritius, to pave way for the construction of the US military base on the island of Diego Garcia.

Some 1,500 of them are currently living in abject poverty in Mauritius.

Assembled under the Chagos refugee Group, the Chagossians are demanding two million US dollars in compensation from the US government for their displacement.

Olivier Bancoult, President of the Group, said Monday that the US Sociologists were in Mauritius to see for themselves the living conditions of the Chagossian people.

But Lynch, one of he visiting Sociologists told local journalists that it would be very difficult to convince the US government to pay compensation to the Chagossians.

"They (government) would not admit that they have caused wrong to these people," he said.

His colleague, Sadler expressed shock at the living conditions of the Chagossian people.

Sadler and Lynch leave Mauritius Friday after more than one week's tour.