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EU Elections, Olympics Overshadow New Caledonia Crisis

Caleb Fotheringham, RNZ Pacific Journalist

People in New Caledonia are disappointed that the riots last month are now being overshadowed by the Parliament elections and the Olympic Games.

New Caledonia's High Commissioner Louis Le Franc said the European elections on Sunday will take place, despite some local municipalities indicating that they are experiencing difficulties.

He said additional security will be deployed for the elections, La Première reported.

Local journalist Coralie Cochin said French media have stopped reporting on the territory.

"They used to do it maybe three weeks ago, but now [people in New Caledonia] feel abandoned because nobody talks about what is happening here anymore," Cochin said.

She said it was because of the upcoming EU elections and Paris Olympics, but also because "the French government tried to overshadow the subject".

"They really want to show a very positive image of [Emmanuel Macron's] action in New Caledonia."

Cochin said people are feeling angry, discouraged and tired from the riots that broke out on 13 May.

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"They told us that they feel abandoned by the French government, ok Paris sent a lot of policemen on the ground, but those policemen didn't manage to restore security outside after almost four weeks of riots."

Cochin said from her count almost 10 houses were burned but more were damaged, while authorities did not have a figure.

She said the people who had homes destroyed or damaged moved in with friends and family.

They are blaming both the government and rioters for what happened, Cochin said.

"Some of them told me they were really disappointed by the authorities because they are supposed to help and make people feel secure but instead of that they had to flee their home and were not helped to find a new home."

Cochin said people are concerned of losing their homes going forward but are most concerned of losing their job.

"I would say more than 6000 people lost their job already."

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