4 Sep 2003

New Caledonia lawyer says treatment of Wallisians in Noumea akin to ethnic cleansing

9:45 am on 4 September 2003

A lawyer acting for Wallisian families in New Caledonia, Frederic de Greslan, says recent action against them in the Noumea suburb of St Louis amounts to ethnic cleansing.

The area has seen violent clashes with Kanak landowners for the nearly two years, which has left three people dead and scores injured.

The authorities have resettled about 140 Wallisian families near Noumea but about 30 remain amid continued concern for public safety.

Mr de Greslan says families are being split as those in the settlement cannot leave while road closures prevent other family memebers from returning.

He also says this goes against the 1998 Noumea accord which provides for a common future for the various ethinic groups.