5 Nov 2020

New Caledonia residents flee Mare unrest

9:12 am on 5 November 2020

Dozens of people in New Caledonia are on the move because of unrest on Mare over the appointment of a new Protestant pastor.

Gendarmerie vehicle in New Caledonia

Gendarmerie vehicle in New Caledonia Photo: RNZ Walter Zweifel

Fearing for their safety, people are leaving the island for Noumea, with some saying they would no longer be able to return after being banished.

Four squads of riot police have been sent to Mare but there have been no arrests.

The new pastor, who hails from the area, reportedly appointed himself to the role in the parish without getting the official approval of the Protestant Church, triggering sharp divisions within the community.

Several houses and cars have been burned and a tourist site a boat were badly damaged.

At least one person is reported to have been injured.

The French High Commission as well as the Protestant Church have appealed for calm.

Investigations into the violence have been opened.

Collections of food and clothing have been started in Noumea to help the displaced.