30 Jul 2004

Kanak leader calls for development in New Caledonia villages

3:37 pm on 30 July 2004

A Kanak activist in New Caledonia says the Government's focus on Noumea has lead to a breakdown of Kanak families and culture.

Jacques Boengkih, the director of the Kanak Agency for Development, says the employment situation has caused a mass exodus of young indigenous people from their villages.

Mr Boengkih says the Government and multi national companies investing in the country are ignoring the needs of the Kanak population.

"Small businesses should be created in villages instead of creating everything in Noumea and facilitating the exodus of people from their own village."

He says that the unemployment rate in New Caledonia has reached 25 per cent and three quarters of those without jobs are Kanaks.

There are some 60,000 employed in the private and public sector and more than six thousand school leavers joining the employment market each year.