Kanaky New Caledonia unrest: ‘Nobody talks about what’s happening here anymore’

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Hundreds of people took part in protest against French policy in Kanaky New Caledonia
Hundreds of people took part in a protest against French policy in Kanaky New Caledonia in the Vanuatu capital of Port Vila yesterday. Image: VBTC News screenshot APR

By Caleb Fotheringham, RNZ Pacific journalist

People in Kanaky New Caledonia are disappointed that the riots last month are now being overshadowed by the Parliament elections and the Olympic Games.

New Caledonia High Commissioner Louis Le Franc said the European elections tomorrow will take place, despite some local municipalities indicating that they are experiencing difficulties.

He said additional security will be deployed for the elections, public broadcaster La Première TV reported.

Local journalist Coralie Cochin said French media had stopped reporting on the territory.

“They used to do it maybe three weeks ago, but now [people in New Caledonia] feel abandoned because nobody talks about what is happening here anymore,” Cochin said.

She said it was because of the upcoming EU elections and Paris Olympics, but also because “the French government tried to overshadow the subject”.

“They really want to show a very positive image of [Emmanuel Macron’s] action in New Caledonia.”

People feeling angry, discouraged
Cochin said people were feeling angry, discouraged and tired from the riots that broke out on May 13.

“They told us that they feel abandoned by the French government, okay Paris sent a lot of policemen on the ground, but those policemen didn’t manage to restore security outside after almost four weeks of riots.”

Cochin said from her count almost 10 houses were burned but more were damaged, while authorities did not have a figure.

She said the people who had homes destroyed or damaged moved in with friends and family.

They are blaming both the government and rioters for what happened, Cochin said.

“Some of them told me they were really disappointed by the authorities because they are supposed to help and make people feel secure but instead of that they had to flee their home and were not helped to find a new home.”

Cochin said people were concerned of losing their homes going forward but were most concerned of losing their job.

“I would say more than 6000 people lost their job already,” she said.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

Ni-Vanuatu protesters marching on the French Embassy in the Vanuatu capital of Port Vila
Ni-Vanuatu protesters marching on the French Embassy in the Vanuatu capital of Port Vila yesterday. Image: VBTC News screenshot APR
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