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RAAF flights repatriate more than 100 people from New Caledonia

written by Jake Nelson | May 22, 2024

Passengers board a RAAF C-130J Hercules in New Caledonia for a repatriation flight to Brisbane. (Image: DFAT)

The RAAF is working with French authorities in New Caledonia to continue to evacuate Australians from the Pacific territory.

Two repatriation flights assisted by the Australian government brought 108 Australians and other tourists from Noumea to Brisbane on Tuesday, said Foreign Minister Penny Wong. Civil unrest is continuing in New Caledonia as pro-independence protesters clash with French security forces.

“Thank you to officials who facilitated the flights. We continue to work with partners on further flights, prioritising passengers based on need,” said Minister Wong.

“We stand ready to assist and DFAT remains in contact with registered Australians in New Caledonia.”

In an update on Wednesday, the Foreign Minister said French authorities would conduct another flight that day to help more tourists to leave the islands.


“We will continue to work with partners to support the departure of all Australians who want to leave. Australian officials remain in contact with registered Australians,” Minister Wong said.

“DFAT staff are also contacting hotels in New Caledonia to provide information and to assess food and security arrangements.”

More than 1,000 French police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed under a major security operation to the Pacific archipelago, east of Australia.

Conflict initially broke out more than a week ago after the French government announced plans to give non-Indigenous residents voting rights in the overseas territory.

A state of emergency has since been called in the region and night-time curfews established, as well as a ban on some apps such as TikTok. It is understood over 200 people have been detained by authorities.

Defence Minister Richard Marles earlier this week said Australia was “talking closely with the French government” about the situation in New Caledonia.

“Obviously, this is a matter which is concerning, but it’s also a matter which is in the hands of the French authorities,” he said.

“We’re also speaking closely with our own consulate in Noumea. What I would say for Australians who are in Noumea now, firstly, listen to the directions of local authorities. You can follow the advice which has been provided through Smart Traveller, and be in touch with the consulate.”

More than 300 Australians have reportedly registered with consular officials in New Caledonia.

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