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November 4, 1999
PINA Nius Online


NOUMEA, New Caledonia (November 4, 1999 -PINA Nius Online)---Three Australian citizens who survived on a tiny uninhabited island in the Loyalties (northeast of New Caledonia) were rescued Wednesday by a French "Casa" military aircraft, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The three, two men and a woman, were sailing back from Vanuatu on their yacht, when it sank for a still-undetermined reason.

They were lucky enough to make it to tiny Huo Island (between Lifou and Maré), in the Loyalty group, where they were marooned for three days until personnel aboard the French military plane spotted them during a routine mission.

"I saw something abnormal on that island, like moving figures," pilot Lieutenant Alexandre Boggio said.

After three passes over the island, the plane crew confirmed there were people in need of rescue.

Next to them were a life raft and a small temporary camp with a huge "V" drawn in the sand to attract attention.

The plane alerted the Sea Rescue center, which sent a patrol boat to pick up the Australians.

While waiting for the boat to arrive, the French plane circled around the small island, dropping messages in French and in English to comfort them.



NOUMEA, New Caledonia (November 4, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---The 1999 Nobel Peace Prize-winning humanitarian organization Médecins sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) has officially acknowledged Noumea’s support in the early days of the organization’s work, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

In an official message MSF president Philippe Biberson sent to Noumea mayor (and now President of New Caledonia) Jean Lèques, MSF recalled that Noumea was especially helpful in one of the most important MSF actions in the late seventies, a humanitarian campaign to help rescue some 44,000 boat people fleeing Vietnam.

In 1979, MSF founding member Bernard Kouchner (and now UN administrator for Kosovo) was on the MSF-chartered "Ile de Lumière" ship with New Caledonian member doctors, including Bernard Rousseau, a Noumea surgeon and early MSF participant in the African Biafra campaigns.

"Ile de Lumière," an old coast liner which was owned by Compagnie des Chargeurs Calédoniens’ director Michel Cordier, was transformed into a hospital ship with five doctors and three nurses onboard.

It left Noumea on March 29, 1979 and stayed in the Vietnam area until December of that year, saving hundreds of lives.

At the time, Malaysian authorities were deporting Vietnamese refugees who flooded into the neighboring country. Most of the refugees were interned in a refugee camp known as "Poulo Bidong."

It became the starting point of a media campaign orchestrated from Paris by a "Boat for Vietnam" committee led by leading French philosophers and writers, including Jean-Paul Sartre, André Glücksman and Raymond Aron.

"I cannot forget Noumea's contribution over the years. (You town) has always supported our actions in the (Pacific) region," Biberson wrote.

"For the past 28 years, MSF hasn’t only fought for peace, but also for the protection and the dignity of people who are victims of all forms of injustice. We chose to help, but also to testify, because although we're not so sure that our words can save, we know for a fact that silence kills.

This bulletin was produced by the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA). Editor: Patrick Antoine Decloitre E-mail: 

For more information, contact Nina Ratulele, PINA Administrator, at 

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Damodar Centre, 1st Floor 46 Gordon Street Suva, Republic of the Fiji Islands Tel: (679) 303 623 Fax : (679) 303 943 Postal Address: PINA, Private Mail Bag, Suva, Fiji Islands

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