Crisis in New Caledonia: reopening of the international airport on Monday

Crisis in New Caledonia: reopening of the international airport on Monday
Crisis in New Caledonia: reopening of the international airport on Monday

International airport will reopen on Monday

Posted today at 5:43 a.m.

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Nouméa international airport, closed since May 14 due to high tensions in New Caledonia, will reopen during the day from Monday, the High Commission of the Republic announced on Sunday, also indicating that the curfew will now begin at 8 p.m. p.m.

The high commission “decided to reopen the international airport during the day” and “to push back the start of the curfew to 8 p.m. from Monday”, compared to 6 p.m. until then. Since May 13 and the protest of a law for an electoral thaw, violence has arisen in the South Pacific archipelago, causing nine deaths and very significant damage.

The decision to reopen the airport was taken due to “daytime traffic (…) made possible on RT1”, a double expressway linking the center of Nouméa to La Tontouta international airport, and for a long time inaccessible because of the numerous roadblocks installed by independence demonstrators.

The road being cleared

Police officers have been regularly clearing the road for a week, ensuring that the roadblocks are not rebuilt after their passage. Only a few rare flights, by exemption, had been able to take place recently, with passengers placed on waiting lists. The high commission, representative of the French state on the territory, pushed back the start of the curfew by two hours – which runs until 6:00 a.m. the next day – “in view of the improvement in the situation and in order to to facilitate the gradual return to normal life.

The curfew was introduced on May 14, then the state of emergency on May 15, the latter having been lifted on May 28. “The ban on the sale of alcohol (exception for wine merchants), the sale and transport of weapons are extended,” recalled the high commission. According to the latest report on Sunday, the riots left 9 dead, including 2 gendarmes, and “no new deaths are to be deplored”, underlined the high commission, which reported 248 police officers and gendarmes injured and 1,187 people arrested.

On Monday, primary, middle and high school students will gradually return to school, depending on the areas and establishments. Since May 13, New Caledonia has been plagued by violent unrest caused by the adoption by the National Assembly of a constitutional reform bill allowing a thaw of the electoral body, which, according to its opponents, would further marginalize the indigenous Kanak people. In total, some 3,500 security forces are deployed in New Caledonia, where around 270,000 people live.

Many buildings were burned, some stores were looted. The High Commissioner of the Republic estimated the damage at more than 1.5 billion euros, with 570 companies totally or almost entirely destroyed, for a direct loss estimated at around 6,000 jobs.


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