June 20, 2024

France evacuates tourists from New Caledonia

There has been severe unrest in New Caledonia since mid-May (archive photo May 15, 2024)Image: Screenshot x/la Bloom Libre

France has begun evacuating French tourists due to ongoing serious unrest in the overseas territory of New Caledonia. As reported by television station BFMTV, the first passengers were flown to Australia and New Zealand on a military plane on Saturday morning. From there, commercial flights to France will continue.

Unrest in the French overseas territory in the South Pacific has been continuing for more than a week. Seven people have already been killed. France declared a state of emergency and deployed additional security forces in the archipelago. The riots were sparked by a constitutional change planned by Paris that would give thousands of residents of French origin the right to vote.

However, independence supporters in New Caledonia, which has a population of 270,000, fear it will reduce the influence of indigenous people. The indigenous Kanak people have long hoped to create their own nation. During his visit to New Caledonia on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted to postpone reform for the time being until the situation calms down and political talks can resume.

Noumea La Tontouta International Airport has been closed since May 14 and all commercial flights have been canceled since then. Australia and New Zealand have already begun transporting their citizens in military aircraft at the beginning of the week. (DAP/EPA)