Australians Stranded in New Caledonia ‘Running Out of Food’ Amid Civil Unrest

SYDNEY – Australians stranded in New Caledonia are rationing food as they wait for a way out of the troubled Pacific island territory, following riots that have resulted in the deaths of four people. A traveler from Sydney described the dire situation on Saturday.

“The kids are definitely hungry because we don’t really have much option of what we can feed them,” said Joanne Elias from a resort in the capital, Noumea, where her family has been confined since the unrest began earlier this week. “You can tell they are running out of food,” she told Reuters by phone, referring to the resort where they are staying.

After three nights of upheaval, hundreds of French police reinforcements began arriving in the French-ruled territory on Friday to regain control of the capital. The riots, sparked by anger among indigenous Kanak people over a contested electoral reform, have led to burnt businesses, torched cars, looted shops, and road barricades, cutting off access to medicine and food, authorities report.

At least four people, including a police official, have been killed in the unrest, complicating President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to boost French influence in the Pacific. Elias, who arrived in the country on May 10 with her husband and four children, said she had been advised to fill a bathtub in case the water supply was disrupted, as food stocks dwindled.

“We don’t know how long we’re going to be here for,” she said, adding that her family was among about 30 Australians stuck at the Chateau Royal resort. The resort declined to comment on the situation, citing security reasons. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The New Caledonia government stated on Friday that the island had food stocks for two months and that the problem lay with distribution. Operations to supply food and medicine to the public will begin, with teams including mine-clearing specialists removing road barricades booby-trapped by activists, French officials have said.