The delegation with WCC representatives

Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC

The delegation included Mickael Forrest, permanent secretary of External/Foreign Affairs and the permanent representative to the UN of the Republic of Vanuatu; and David Wanabo, political officer of the Union Calédonienne.

Forrest shared that the Kanak people, who are the Indigenous people of New Caledonia, acknowledge and appreciate the role that churches and Indigenous spiritualities have played in their fight for independence from France and spoke positively of the impact of hosting the Pacific Conference of Churches’ Assembly in 2023. 

Forrest considered it very important that during his time in Geneva, he should meet with WCC staff to thank the churches and to ask for continued support and solidarity. 

He also shared that, as the fourth largest producer of nickel in the world, New Caledonia, like other rich but poor” countries, is becoming a playground for the rich and developed nations.

Forrest concluded the visit with a call: Please speak out in support of our dignity, our right to self-determination, our human rights and continue to remember us in your prayers and actions!”

The people of Kanaky New Caledonia are coping with tension and blockades that have brought shortages of food, healthcare, and essential services. 

The state of emergency throughout New Caledonia was lifted on 28 May. Tensions remain high in the northern parts of the country as officials try to address blockades. Air travel to and from New Caledonia remains restricted as the main international airport has been closed off. Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu, and Fiji continue to evacuate citizens amid concerns of heavy military buildup in the country. 

The Pacific Conference of Churches held its 12th General Assembly in Kanaky New Caledonia in November 2023. 

There is still tension on ground as Kanak leaders are working with the youth and related groups to restore peace and normalcy,” reported Pacific Conference of Churches general secretary Rev. James Bhagwan. Regionally, there have been numerous statements of concerns expressed by the Pacific Elders Voices, the Melanesian Spearhead Group, and the Pacific Islands Forum.”

Bhagwan also noted that there have been peaceful demonstrations outside France diplomatic missions in New Zealand and Vanuatu, and a prayer vigil hosted last week in Suva, Fiji, by the Pacific Conference of Churches.