20 Sep 2003

Wallisian families in New Caledonia to seek damages

9:53 am on 20 September 2003

In New Caledonia, more than 100 Wallisian families forced to evacuate from the Noumea suburb of St Louis are to press the French Government for more compensation.

The families have been forced to move in a deal to resolve 20 months of ethnic unrest over a land dispute with the local Kanak people

The Wallisians' lawyer, Frederick de Grelan, says they already have a commitment from the French and Southern Province Governments for contributions towards plots of land and the costs of rebuilding their houses.

He says France has also offered compensation but this is too low to cover such things as the actual value of the houses.

"They are seeking the exact value of their houses and also indemnification of wage losses, because it was due to the situation that they lost their jobs and thus their wages. Also, indemnification of their moral predjudice, so they will seek damages for that too, for what they have suffered."

Mr de Grelan says this includes adults who are suffering psychiatric problems and children experiencing learning difficulties as a result of the tension.