Australia and New Zealand begin evacuating nationals from unrest in New Caledonia

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Australia and New Zealand are dispatching planes to evacuate their nationals from New Caledonia amidst ongoing unrest. Get the latest updates here

RNZAF Hercules C-130 Heads to New Caledonia for Tourist Evacuation Amid Unrest

 

Australia and New Zealand begin evacuating nationals from unrest in New Caledonia

Auckland, New Zealand — A Royal New Zealand Air Force Hercules C-130 took off from Whenuapai airbase near Auckland on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia. The mission is part of a joint effort by the Australian and New Zealand governments to evacuate their nationals from the violence-torn region.

 

The operation comes in response to escalating unrest in New Caledonia, where indigenous Kanak groups have intensified their long-standing demands for independence from France. The unrest, which began with protests on May 15, has led to significant violence, including the blockade of major roads and the burning of vehicles. French security forces have been struggling to restore order and reopen access to vital infrastructure, including the international airport.

 

In a statement, New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins emphasized the government's commitment to ensuring the safety of New Zealanders abroad. "Our priority is to bring our people home safely. We are working closely with the Australian government and French authorities to coordinate the evacuation," he said.

 

French President Emmanuel Macron chaired a security and defense council meeting on Monday, May 20, 2024, to address the crisis. French security forces have deployed heavy machinery, including backhoes, to clear the roads of charred vehicles and other debris as they attempt to regain control of key routes, particularly the highway to the international airport in Noumea.

 

The French military has also been actively involved in the response. On May 16, security forces were seen embarking on flights to New Caledonia from the Istres military base in southern France. The objective is to stabilize the situation and facilitate the safe evacuation of foreign nationals and residents affected by the unrest.

 

The violence in New Caledonia is rooted in decades-long tensions between the indigenous Kanak population and the French government. The Kanak community has been advocating for independence, leading to periodic clashes and political unrest. The current wave of violence has been particularly severe, prompting international concern and intervention.

 

Images from the region show smoke rising from areas affected by the protests and roadblocks. French authorities have described the situation as "critical" and are working to ensure that essential services and transportation routes are secured.

 

The RNZAF Hercules C-130 is part of a broader evacuation strategy involving multiple flights and coordination between different government agencies. Australia has also committed resources to evacuate its citizens, with planes scheduled to assist in the operation.

 

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta confirmed that consular teams are on the ground in New Caledonia, assisting in locating and transporting New Zealanders to safety. "We urge all New Zealanders in New Caledonia to follow the instructions of local authorities and our consular team," Mahuta said.

 

As the situation continues to evolve, the priority remains the safe and swift evacuation of foreign nationals caught in the unrest. The international community is closely monitoring developments, hoping for a resolution that will bring stability to the troubled region.


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CRN News Update - Latest Breaking News: Australia and New Zealand begin evacuating nationals from unrest in New Caledonia
Australia and New Zealand begin evacuating nationals from unrest in New Caledonia
Australia and New Zealand are dispatching planes to evacuate their nationals from New Caledonia amidst ongoing unrest. Get the latest updates here
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