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The House passes billions in aid for Ukraine and Israel after months of struggle. Next is the Senate

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The House passes billions in aid for Ukraine and Israel after months of struggle. Next is the Senate
News

News

The House passes billions in aid for Ukraine and Israel after months of struggle. Next is the Senate

2024-04-21 22:05 Last Updated At:22:10

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies in a rare weekend session as Democrats and Republicans banded together after months of hard-right resistance over renewed American support for repelling Russia’s invasion.

With an overwhelming vote Saturday, the $61 billion in aid for Ukraine passed in a matter of minutes, a strong showing as American lawmakers race to deliver a fresh round of U.S. support to the war-torn ally. Many Democrats cheered on the House floor and waved blue-and-yellow flags of Ukraine.

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Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies in a rare weekend session as Democrats and Republicans banded together after months of hard-right resistance over renewed American support for repelling Russia’s invasion.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after the House voted to approve $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after the House voted to approve $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after the House voted to approve $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after the House voted to approve $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., walks with reporters after lawmakers pushed a $95 billion national security aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies closer to passage, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, April 19, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., walks with reporters after lawmakers pushed a $95 billion national security aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies closer to passage, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, April 19, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Activists supporting Ukraine demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Activists supporting Ukraine demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, left, walks with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the speaker emerita, as lawmakers arrive to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, left, walks with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the speaker emerita, as lawmakers arrive to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Activists supporting Ukraine demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Activists supporting Ukraine demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

FILE - A local woman rides a bicycle on April 18, 2024, in front of a building destroyed by a Russian airstrike in the frontline town of Orikhiv, Ukraine. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., putting his job on the line, relied on Democratic support this week to bring to the House floor a series of votes on $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. Since President Joe Biden made the funding request in October, the Republican-controlled House has always loomed as the largest obstacle to final passage. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)

FILE - A local woman rides a bicycle on April 18, 2024, in front of a building destroyed by a Russian airstrike in the frontline town of Orikhiv, Ukraine. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., putting his job on the line, relied on Democratic support this week to bring to the House floor a series of votes on $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. Since President Joe Biden made the funding request in October, the Republican-controlled House has always loomed as the largest obstacle to final passage. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses a media conference at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania during the Three Seas Initiative Summit and Business Forum in Vilnius, Thursday, April 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses a media conference at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania during the Three Seas Initiative Summit and Business Forum in Vilnius, Thursday, April 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., walks with reporters after lawmakers pushed a $95 billion national security aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies closer to passage, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, April 19, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., walks with reporters after lawmakers pushed a $95 billion national security aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies closer to passage, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, April 19, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

FILE - Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, April 19, 2024. Johnson, putting his job on the line, relied on Democratic support this week to bring to the House floor a series of three votes on $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies, as well as a fourth on several other foreign policy proposals. Since President Joe Biden made the funding request in October, the Republican-controlled House has always loomed as the largest obstacle to final passage. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

FILE - Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, April 19, 2024. Johnson, putting his job on the line, relied on Democratic support this week to bring to the House floor a series of three votes on $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies, as well as a fourth on several other foreign policy proposals. Since President Joe Biden made the funding request in October, the Republican-controlled House has always loomed as the largest obstacle to final passage. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Aid to Israel and the other allies also won approval by healthy margins, as did a measure to clamp down on the popular platform TikTok, with unique coalitions forming to push the separate bills forward. The whole package will go to the Senate, which could pass it as soon as Tuesday. President Joe Biden has promised to sign it immediately.

“We did our work here, and I think history will judge it well,” said a weary Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., who risked his own job to marshal the package to passage.

Biden spoke separately with Johnson and Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries to thank them for “putting our national security first” by advancing the legislation, the White House said.

“I urge the Senate to quickly send this package to my desk so that I can sign it into law and we can quickly send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield needs,” the president said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine said he was “grateful” to both parties in the House and “personally Speaker Mike Johnson for the decision that keeps history on the right track,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.

“Thank you, America!” he said.

The scene in Congress was a striking display of action after months of dysfunction and stalemate fueled by Republicans, who hold the majority but are deeply split over foreign aid, particularly for Ukraine. Johnson relied on Democrats to ensure the military and humanitarian funding — the first major package for Ukraine since December 2022 — won approval.

The morning opened with a somber and serious debate and an unusual sense of purpose as Republican and Democratic leaders united to urge quick approval, saying that would ensure the United States supported its allies and remained a leader on the world stage. The House’s visitor galleries were crowded with onlookers.

“The eyes of the world are upon us, and history will judge what we do here and now,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee

Passage through the House cleared away the biggest hurdle to Biden’s funding request, first made in October as Ukraine’s military supplies began to run low.

The GOP-controlled House struggled for months over what to do, first demanding that any assistance for Ukraine be tied to policy changes at the U.S.-Mexico border, only to immediately reject a bipartisan Senate offer along those very lines.

Reaching an endgame has been an excruciating lift for Johnson that has tested both his resolve and his support among Republicans, with a small but growing number now openly urging his removal from the speaker’s office. Yet congressional leaders cast the votes as a turning point in history — an urgent sacrifice as U.S. allies are beleaguered by wars and threats from continental Europe to the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific.

“Sometimes when you are living history, as we are today, you don’t understand the significance of the actions of the votes that we make on this House floor, of the effect that it will have down the road,” said New York Rep. Gregory Meeks, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “This is a historic moment.”

Opponents, particularly the hard-right Republicans from Johnson’s majority, argued that the U.S. should focus on the home front, addressing domestic border security and the nation’s rising debt load, and they warned against spending more money, which largely flows to American defense manufacturers, to produce weaponry used overseas.

Still, Congress has seen a stream of world leaders visit in recent months, from Zelenskyy to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, all but pleading with lawmakers to approve the aid. Globally, the delay left many questioning America’s commitment to its allies.

At stake has been one of Biden’s top foreign policy priorities — halting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advance in Europe. After engaging in quiet talks with Johnson, the president quickly endorsed Johnson’s plan, paving the way for Democrats to give their rare support to clear the procedural hurdles needed for a final vote.

“We have a responsibility, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans to defend democracy wherever it is at risk,” Jeffries said during the debate.

While aid for Ukraine failed to win a majority of Republicans, several dozen progressive Democrats voted against the bill aiding Israel as they demanded an end to the bombardment of Gaza that has killed thousands of civilians. A group of roughly 20 hard-right Republicans voted against every portion of the aid package, including for allies like Israel and Taiwan that have traditionally enjoyed support from the GOP.

Some Republicans also angrily objected to their counterparts waving Ukrainian flags during the vote. Rep. Kat Cammack, a Florida Republican, said on X she was “infuriated” by the display and was working on legislation to prohibit the flags of foreign nations on the House floor.

At the same time, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has loomed large over the fight, weighing in from afar via social media statements and direct phone calls with lawmakers as he tilts the GOP to a more isolationist stance with his “America First” brand of politics.

Ukraine’s defense once enjoyed robust, bipartisan support in Congress, but as the war enters its third year, a majority of Republicans opposed further aid. Trump ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., offered an amendment to zero out the money, but it was rejected.

The ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus has derided the legislation as the “America Last” foreign wars package and urged lawmakers to defy Republican leadership and oppose it because the bills did not include border security measures.

Johnson’s hold on the speaker’s gavel has also grown more tenuous in recent days as three Republicans, led by Greene, supported a “motion to vacate” that can lead to a vote on removing the speaker. Egged on by far-right personalities, she is also being joined by a growing number of lawmakers including Reps. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who is urging Johnson to voluntarily step aside.

The package included several Republican priorities that Democrats endorsed, or at least are willing to accept. Those include proposals that allow the U.S. to seize frozen Russian central bank assets to rebuild Ukraine; impose sanctions on Iran, Russia, China and criminal organizations that traffic fentanyl; and legislation to require the China-based owner of the popular video app TikTok to sell its stake within a year or face a ban in the United States.

Still, the all-out push to get the bills through Congress is a reflection not only of politics, but realities on the ground in Ukraine. Top lawmakers on national security committees, who are privy to classified briefings, have grown gravely concerned about the tide of the war as Russia pummels Ukrainian forces beset by a shortage of troops and ammunition.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced the Senate would begin procedural votes on the package Tuesday, saying, “Our allies across the world have been waiting for this moment.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, as he prepared to overcome objections from his right flank next week, said, “The task before us is urgent. It is once again the Senate’s turn to make history.”

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after the House voted to approve $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after the House voted to approve $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after the House voted to approve $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after the House voted to approve $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., walks with reporters after lawmakers pushed a $95 billion national security aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies closer to passage, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, April 19, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., walks with reporters after lawmakers pushed a $95 billion national security aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies closer to passage, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, April 19, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Activists supporting Ukraine demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Activists supporting Ukraine demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, left, walks with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the speaker emerita, as lawmakers arrive to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, left, walks with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the speaker emerita, as lawmakers arrive to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Activists supporting Ukraine demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Activists supporting Ukraine demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

FILE - A local woman rides a bicycle on April 18, 2024, in front of a building destroyed by a Russian airstrike in the frontline town of Orikhiv, Ukraine. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., putting his job on the line, relied on Democratic support this week to bring to the House floor a series of votes on $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. Since President Joe Biden made the funding request in October, the Republican-controlled House has always loomed as the largest obstacle to final passage. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)

FILE - A local woman rides a bicycle on April 18, 2024, in front of a building destroyed by a Russian airstrike in the frontline town of Orikhiv, Ukraine. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., putting his job on the line, relied on Democratic support this week to bring to the House floor a series of votes on $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies. Since President Joe Biden made the funding request in October, the Republican-controlled House has always loomed as the largest obstacle to final passage. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses a media conference at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania during the Three Seas Initiative Summit and Business Forum in Vilnius, Thursday, April 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses a media conference at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania during the Three Seas Initiative Summit and Business Forum in Vilnius, Thursday, April 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., walks with reporters after lawmakers pushed a $95 billion national security aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies closer to passage, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, April 19, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., walks with reporters after lawmakers pushed a $95 billion national security aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies closer to passage, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, April 19, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

FILE - Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, April 19, 2024. Johnson, putting his job on the line, relied on Democratic support this week to bring to the House floor a series of three votes on $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies, as well as a fourth on several other foreign policy proposals. Since President Joe Biden made the funding request in October, the Republican-controlled House has always loomed as the largest obstacle to final passage. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

FILE - Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, April 19, 2024. Johnson, putting his job on the line, relied on Democratic support this week to bring to the House floor a series of three votes on $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies, as well as a fourth on several other foreign policy proposals. Since President Joe Biden made the funding request in October, the Republican-controlled House has always loomed as the largest obstacle to final passage. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Next Article

Australia and New Zealand begin evacuating nationals from unrest in New Caledonia

2024-05-21 16:06 Last Updated At:16:10

NEWCASTLE, Australia (AP) — Australia and New Zealand sent airplanes to New Caledonia on Tuesday to begin bringing home stranded citizens from the violence-wracked French South Pacific territory.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Australia had received clearance from French authorities for two flights to evacuate citizens from the archipelago, where indigenous people have long sought independence from France.

Hours later, a Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules touched down in Noumea, the capital. The plane can carry 124 passengers, according to the Defense Department.

“We continue to work on further flights,” Wong wrote on the social media platform X on Tuesday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said 300 Australians were in New Caledonia. It did not immediately confirm whether the Australian-organized flights would also evacuate other stranded foreign nationals, believed to number in the thousands.

New Zealand's government also announced that it had sent a plane to New Caledonia to begin evacuating about 50 of its citizens.

“New Zealanders in New Caledonia have faced a challenging few days — and bringing them home has been an urgent priority for the government,” Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said. “In cooperation with France and Australia, we are working on subsequent flights in coming days.”

Noumea’s international airport remains closed to commercial flights. Its reopening will be reassessed on Thursday.

At least six people have died and hundreds more have been injured since violence erupted last week in New Caledonia following controversial electoral reforms passed in Paris.

About 270 suspected rioters have been arrested as of Tuesday, and a 6 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew is in effect for the archipelago of about 270,000 people, which is a popular tourist destination with its idyllic beaches and climate.

France has sent in over a thousand security personnel, with hundreds more due to arrive Tuesday, to try to quell the unrest and restore control.

Armed clashes, looting, arson and other violence turned parts of Noumea into no-go zones. Columns of smoke billowed into the sky, hulks of burned cars littered roads, businesses and shops were ransacked and buildings became smoking ruins.

There have been decades of tensions between indigenous Kanaks who are seeking independence and descendants of colonizers who want to remain part of France.

The unrest erupted May 13 as the French legislature in Paris debated amending the French Constitution to make changes to New Caledonia voter lists. The National Assembly in Paris approved a bill that would, among other changes, allow residents who have lived in New Caledonia for 10 years to cast ballots in provincial elections.

Opponents fear the measure will benefit pro-France politicians in New Caledonia and further marginalize Kanaks who once suffered from strict segregation policies and widespread discrimination.

A RNZAF Hercules C-130 takes off from Whenuapai airbase near Auckland, New Zealand, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia, on a mercy mission to rescue stranded New Zealand tourists, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The Australian and New Zealand governments say they are sending planes to evacuate their nationals from violence-scorched New Caledonia. (Michael Craig/NZ Herald via AP)

A RNZAF Hercules C-130 takes off from Whenuapai airbase near Auckland, New Zealand, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia, on a mercy mission to rescue stranded New Zealand tourists, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The Australian and New Zealand governments say they are sending planes to evacuate their nationals from violence-scorched New Caledonia. (Michael Craig/NZ Herald via AP)

Burnt cars are lined up after unrest that erupted following protests over voting reforms in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Nicolas Job)

Burnt cars are lined up after unrest that erupted following protests over voting reforms in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Nicolas Job)

A RNZAF Hercules C-130 takes off from Whenuapai airbase near Auckland, New Zealand, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia, on a mercy mission to rescue stranded New Zealand tourists, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The Australian and New Zealand governments say they are sending planes to evacuate their nationals from violence-scorched New Caledonia. (Michael Craig/NZ Herald via AP)

A RNZAF Hercules C-130 takes off from Whenuapai airbase near Auckland, New Zealand, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia, on a mercy mission to rescue stranded New Zealand tourists, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The Australian and New Zealand governments say they are sending planes to evacuate their nationals from violence-scorched New Caledonia. (Michael Craig/NZ Herald via AP)

France's President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd right, chairs a security and defence council at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, May 20, 2024. French security forces are working to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French Pacific archipelago where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (Benoit Tessier, Pool via AP)

France's President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd right, chairs a security and defence council at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, May 20, 2024. French security forces are working to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French Pacific archipelago where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (Benoit Tessier, Pool via AP)

FILE - This handout photo provided by the French Army shows security force embarking a plane to New Caledonia at the Istres military base, southern France, on Thursday, May 16, 2024. Using backhoes to shove aside charred vehicles, French security forces worked Sunday, May 19, 2024, to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French South Pacific island where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (Etat Major des Armees via AP, File)

FILE - This handout photo provided by the French Army shows security force embarking a plane to New Caledonia at the Istres military base, southern France, on Thursday, May 16, 2024. Using backhoes to shove aside charred vehicles, French security forces worked Sunday, May 19, 2024, to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French South Pacific island where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (Etat Major des Armees via AP, File)

The French territory of New Caledonia has been rocked by deadly unrest, leading to a state of emergency imposed by Paris. (AP Graphic)

The French territory of New Caledonia has been rocked by deadly unrest, leading to a state of emergency imposed by Paris. (AP Graphic)

FILE - Smoke rises during protests in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday May 15, 2024. Using backhoes to shove aside charred vehicles, French security forces worked Sunday, May 19, 2024, to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French South Pacific island where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (AP Photo/Nicolas Job, File)

FILE - Smoke rises during protests in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday May 15, 2024. Using backhoes to shove aside charred vehicles, French security forces worked Sunday, May 19, 2024, to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French South Pacific island where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (AP Photo/Nicolas Job, File)

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