More delays for stranded Australians in New Caledonia

Australia will operate further repatriation flights out of New Caledonia following violent unrest.

Australia will operate further repatriation flights out of New Caledonia following violent unrest. Photo: AAP

Australians looking to come home from riot-hit New Caledonia may be forced to wait for further evacuation flights from the Pacific territory.

The federal government had been working with French authorities to plan for more flights that were able to leave Noumea on Thursday and Friday.

However, French officials have advised Australia that operational demands in New Caledonia would mean no further flights would be able to take off on Thursday.

It comes as French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in New Caledonia on Thursday in a show of support for the region, after at least six people have died in violent riots in the French territory.

The riots were sparked by the French government’s decision to allow French citizens who have lived in New Caledonia for more than 10 years to be eligible to vote in local elections.

The decision has been seen as an attempt to dilute the pro-independent movement in the region.

Australians still looking to leave New Caledonia have been told by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade further delays were likely for evacuation flights.

The federal government has indicated it was ready to carry out further flights for stranded Australians once approvals were able to be granted.

There have been 187 Australians and their family members who have returned from New Caledonia to Australia, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said on Wednesday.

A group of 103 people were repatriated to Brisbane on Wednesday on the latest flight, while 84 Australians and 24 others were flown in on Tuesday.

It’s estimated there are about 500 Australians in New Caledonia and about 300 had registered their interest with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in coming home.


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