French President Emmanuel Macron said on a visit to New Caledonia on Thursday that inequalities had widened on the French-ruled Pacific archipelago and were a driving force in the deadly civil unrest that broke out last week.

The island territory is marked by deep disparities in education and employment, according to census data and experts on New Caledonia, despite equal opportunities policies that were part of past political agreements in the 1980s and 1990s.

The poverty rate among indigenous Kanaks, the largest community, is 32.5%, compared to 9% among non-Kanaks, according to the 2019 census.