Chagos Islands: international dispute and human drama
Fifty years ago Britain separated the Chagos Islands from its colony Mauritius, expelling the entire population to make way for the installation of a US military base that is today highly strategic.
Britain’s 1965 acquisition of the Indian Ocean archipelago has been disputed ever since, with Mauritius demanding its return.
As the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague holds hearings on the case from Monday, here is some background.
– Indian Ocean colony –
Located several hundred kilometres (miles) south of the Maldives, the Chagos Islands were discovered by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century but remained uninhabited until they were colonised by France in the 18th century.