11 Sep 2003

Hopes for Wallisian resettlement in New Caledonia to be completed this week

11:26 am on 11 September 2003

A New Caledonian lawyer representing Wallisian families caught in a violent dispute in the Noumea suburb of St Louis says he hopes the remaining families will be moved from the area by the end of this week.

Frederick de Grelan says around 100 Wallisians remain trapped in their houses in St Louis after local Kanaks set up a blockade three weeks ago.

They are the last of more than 150 Wallisian families who had been living in St Louis before a standoff with the Kanaks over land.

That dispute has claimed three lives.

Mr de Grelan says the Wallisians reluctantly agreed to move out because the police had not offered them protection.

He says he wants the last families out as quickly as possibly because they have no other option.

"The families are split in two, you have one part in the road waiting to go back to their homes and the other part is in their homes and cannot go out. There have problems with food, medicines, everything. You have babies over there and no-one is helping them at the moment."