A street in Noumea, New Caledonia
About 300 Australians are stranded in New Caledonia, where France has imposed a state of emergency. Image by AP PHOTO
  • unrest, conflicts and war

ADF ‘ready to fly’ as death toll rises in New Caledonia

Keira Jenkins May 19, 2024

As Australians stranded in New Caledonia amid unrest beg for help to come home, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong says the defence force is “ready to fly” once commercial flights to the territory resume.

Six people have been killed in the French-ruled Pacific Island territory during the upheaval, sparked over contested electoral reform, and a state of emergency has been declared.

There are about 300 Australians in New Caledonia registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was quizzed on Sunday about reports locals were running out of food and a pause in commercial flights.

“The Australian government is closely monitoring events in New Caledonia,” he told reporters.

“Commercial flights stopped a couple of days ago. We are looking at in what way we can provide assistance to Australians who are currently in New Caledonia.”

Senator Wong said in a post to the social media platform X, the government is working with French authorities so any Australians who wish to leave can do so.

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

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

Burnt cars are lined up after unrest that erupted following protests
 The ADF is ready evacuate stranded Australians as soon as flights to the French territory resume. Image by AP PHOTO 

Australians stuck in New Caledonia amid the unrest say they’re desperate to get home as supermarket shelves are bare.

Brisbane woman Sophie Jones Bradshaw told AAP on Saturday she was exhausted and scared as she waited to see whether she could get home before her son’s fourth birthday in several days.

She said she had slept fully dressed for the past five nights with her passport, phone and laptop in a bag ready to go at any moment.

“I’m really hoping that (the airport) will open on the 22nd and I’ll be maintained on my flight which I doubt,” she said.

“But I’m really hoping and it’s hard not to know.”