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French territory hit by cyclone last year

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 6, 2010) – The French overseas territories minister, Marie-Luce Penchard, has promised to send a technical mission to Futuna to help with rebuilding the island after it suffered massive destruction when it was hit by Cyclone Tomas last March.

She made the announcement in New Caledonia where she met representatives from Wallis and Futuna, including its assembly president, Victor Brial, who told her that enormous work still needs to be done to repair Futuna’s hospital, schools and roads.

Mrs Penchard says the rebuilding effort has to be improved as tensions have prompted protests by parents blocking Futuna’s schools for all but two weeks since the cyclone hit.

She has also assured that there will be continued food aid to be sent from New Caledonia in collaboration with the Red Cross.

Mrs Penchard, who says she will visit Wallis and Futuna soon, expressed hope for the reconstruction work to help boost economic activity to slow the exodus to Noumea.

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