“STRANDED RESIDENTS ARE BEING LIED TO, MISINFORMED AND GIVEN THE RUN AROUND”
At the end of the dreadful year 2020, the repatriation process of getting American Samoan residents back home began since the borders closed in April 2020. When this process first started, the stranded residents of American Samoa (AS) residing in the mainland, were informed at the beginning that the selection of repatriation passengers is on a “first come first serve basis” according to our application numbers. However, in a recent email sent out by the ASG Department of Health (DOH) they have announced a new selection process.
This new selection process is now based on a person’s departure date from American Samoa.
So, someone who departed AS in 2018 has priority over someone who departed AS in 2019 or any later dates.
My frustration is that the COVID-19 Task Force for the repatriation flights has been informing the public for the longest time that the selection process follows a “first come first serve basis” of application numbers. So what solicited this change in the selection process and how is it ethical that they informed us of one thing but have been practicing another? And, are they even following any process at all?
Additionally, in that recent email sent out by the ASG DOH, it is in writing that the selection process follows a “first come and first serve basis” but they are also prioritizing passengers depending on how long it has been since they departed the island. So, which selection process are they following if they are following any?
It is not fair for stranded residents to be misinformed on something as significant as how they are being chosen to return home. Being stranded in the mainland, waiting to come home has been mentally and emotionally draining.
Every month, us, stranded residents of AS, build our hopes so high in anticipation of being notified it is our turn to return home, but instead we are constantly let down when no notice comes.
My application number is in the 400’s since I applied for the repatriation flights, I have contacted many offices and departments to determine the status of my application and yet I have received no notice that I can return home or any useful or factual information.
Also, since three repatriation flights have already returned home, that is approximately 500 to 600 residents repatriated, but I am still stranded even though my application number is in the 400’s.
I am aware that the repatriation process has been difficult for our government and for the COVID-19 Task Force of AS to carry out. I am grateful that there is even a process in place to help us come home.
However, it does not mean that we, the people of American Samoa should be lied to, misinformed, and given the run around.
We yearn to return home and all I ask is that those in charge, please be aware of what you put out to the public especially if it is in writing, because as of now, there are two selection processes that are eligible. But which one are we following and how are residents really being selected to come home?
Stranded and Frustrated
[Editor’s Note: Samoa News does not usually publish an ‘unsigned’ LTE, however, due to the ongoing anguish of many of our residents still trying to come home, we decided to allow this one to be printed as an acknowledgement of their frustration.
The writer of this LTE did not want their name published due to possible retribution — such as being ‘bumped’ from the list. While, no one has proof of this ever happening, it is unfortunate the selection process has been tainted by this type of characterization. However, it is what happens when there are possibly two different processes that seem to operate on ‘exceptions to the rule’. ra]