01:25 GMT +321 September 2019
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    A protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London, after a court ruling decided Chagos Islanders are not allowed to return to their homeland

    UN Urges UK to Leave Overseas Territory Chagos Islands Hosting US Air Base

    © AP Photo / Matt Dunham
    Asia & Pacific
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    London has retained control over the group of islands in the Indian Ocean, having separated them from Mauritius several years prior to the country receiving independence as part of Britain’s decolonisation policy.

    The United Nations General Assembly has accepted a declaration demanding that the UK relinquish its control over the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean, with an overwhelming result of 116 for and only 6 against, with 56 abstentions.

    The islands are currently used by the UK for military purposes and one of them, Diego Garcia, is leased to the US until 2036. The latter has built a military base there, which saw around 2,000 of the island's inhabitants forcibly removed and which served as a base for bombers operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    READ MORE: UK Must 'Rapidly' Cede Control of Chagos Islands — UN Court

    Both London and Washington oppose the UN decision, which comes in support of an earlier ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in February 2019. British UN Ambassador Karen Pierce argues that the UK must maintain control over the islands at least until the end of the lease to the US. The latter's UN envoy insists that the base is critical to "efforts to ensure global security".

    Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Juqnauth suggested that London and Washington engage in talks with Mauritius to arrange a lease of the islands for their military operations. The offer didn't find much support in either the US or the UK.


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