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Winston Peters expresses concern over New Caledonia unrest

Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters is expressing grave concern at the unrest in New Caledonia.

Four people have been confirmed dead so far, there are reports of hundreds injured, numerous fires and mass looting after massive riots and armed clashes between indigenous Kanak pro-independence protesters and security forces in New Caledonia's capital Nouméa, since Monday.

All international flights are grounded, and a state of emergency has been declared by the French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday.

In a statement, Peters said the escalating situation was of serious concern across the Pacific region.

"The immediate priority must be for all sides to take steps to de-escalate the situation, so that there can be dialogue and calm.

"No matter your views on the political arrangements in New Caledonia, everyone should agree that violence is harmful to every community there."

New Zealand was in close contact with local authorities in Nouméa and Paris, as well as Australia and Japan, Peters said.

The safety of the 170 New Zealanders registered as being in New Caledonia was of "utmost concern" to the government, he said.

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"We urge all New Zealanders in New Caledonia to register on SafeTravel, if they have not already. New Zealanders in need of immediate consular assistance can contact the 24/7 Consular Emergency line on +64 99 20 20 20.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is in regular contact with all New Zealanders registered on SafeTravel. In addition, our Consulate-General in Nouméa has been in contact with a number of New Zealanders in New Caledonia who have sought advice about the current unrest, and will continue to provide guidance to those Kiwis who need it.

"New Zealanders in New Caledonia are advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations. Local authorities have recommended that individuals stay in place and limit their movements wherever possible."

New Zealanders in New Caledonia are being told to ask their airline for updates on travel bookings.

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