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ADF on standby to help stranded Aussies

Written by on May 19, 2024

The Australian Defence Force is on standby to help Australians stranded in New Caledonia, amid growing unrest and riots in the French-ruled territory.

Six people have died following the French government’s decision to allow people who have lived on the South Pacific island for at least 10 years to vote in provincial elections.

The indigenous Kanak people, and pro-independence groups are protesting the electoral reform, with concerns it will dilute their vote.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the government was working with French authorities to give assistance to Australians stranded in the South Pacific islands.

Commercial flights are currently not operating from Nouméa’s La Tontouta International Airport, and a state of emergency has been declared.

A nationwide curfew between 6pm and 6am is also in place.

“We are working to support Australians in New Caledonia,” Ms Wong shared in a post made on X.

“The Australian Defence Force is ready to fly, pending commercial flights resuming.

“French authorities advise the situation on the ground is preventing flights. We continue to pursue approvals.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said about 300 Australians are currently registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and said the government was on hand to deliver assistance.

“The Australian government is closely monitoring events in New Caledonia, and there are reports they’re running out of food and commercial flights are stopped, commercial flights stopped a couple of days ago,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“We are looking into how we can provide assistance to Australians who are currently in New Caledonia.”

Smart Traveller has warned Aussies to reconsider travel to New Caledonia over fears protests and political demonstrations “may turn more violent at short notice”.

Tourists have been urged to “exercise a high degree of caution,” and are urged to avoid the island’s capital of Nouméa due to political unrest, and the likelihood of travel disruptions and limited essential services.

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