New Caledonia in Turmoil: Riots and Unrest Lead to Closure of Noumea International Airport

The Pacific territory of New Caledonia, under French administration, is in the throes of rioting and looting as demonstrators oppose a proposed constitutional amendment from mainland France.

New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has altered his Pacific Mission itinerary, skipping the Noumea leg due to the unrest. Reports from New Zealander Mike Lightfoot, currently in Noumea, depict a tense atmosphere with rioting along roads and advisories for caution from local doctors.

Cancelled flights and the closure of Noumea International Airport add to the unease, prompting residents and visitors to seek shelter. International media outlets describe scenes of burning vehicles, looting, and clashes between protesters and law enforcement. Arson attacks targeting a bottling factory and looting at supermarkets further illustrate the escalating unrest.

Nat Jones, another visitor from Auckland, recounts encountering burning barricades and witnessing protests waving the Kanak flag, followed by alarming explosions and gunshots. Despite minimal guidance from hotel staff and authorities, tourists remain vigilant and await developments cautiously.