Sailors told to contact Samoa Consulate
The Government has advised Samoan sailors currently in New Zealand, who wish to return home on a repatriation flight, to contact the Samoa Consulate in Auckland to give their details.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo, says there is another repatriation flight to Samoa on 29 May 2020 which the sailors can consider.
He said the sailors can contact the consulate in Auckland or the Samoan High Commission in Wellington, though the process to assist stranded Samoan citizens in New Zealand and Australia depends on Samoa’s capacity to quarantine people.
“As you know there is a flight that has been scheduled for the 29th of this month so we are making arrangements to bring our people who live in Samoa and work in Samoa home and that includes them too [the sailors],” Agafili said.
“A public notice has been disseminated where all the conditions are listed and if people are in New Zealand they should already have this information. Another avenue is to contact our office in Auckland, the consulate in Samoa so they can get help if they don’t understand the process and how it works.”
The Government is working to bring all Samoans home, but “steadily and safely” according to the top bureaucrat, as they are located in countries that have been exposed to and have coronavirus (Covid-19) cases.
“The Government wants to be sure that our borders are protected and that our people who will be in transit are kept safe so we can remain Covid-free,” he added.
In repatriating citizens home during the global pandemic, Agafili said the Government looks at the “big picture from many different angles” and has to exercise caution.
“We don’t just look at just the repatriation of hundreds of Samoans, we are being very careful. All agencies of the Government are working together [on this], with the Health Ministry in the lead so we can repatriate people carefully in view of the fact that Samoa’s border and all our people remain Covid-free,” he said.
Unable to say how many Samoans needed repatriation, Agafili added that Samoa Government offices are processing those who travelled to Australia and New Zealand on return tickets and were unable to return following international border closures.
Samoa’s consulate in Sydney and the High Commission in Canberra are also on standby for citizens currently in Australia, who are keen to get on the repatriation flight home.
“The ultimate goal of the government is to bring all our people home and at the same time to protect and keep our nation safe. We thank God that we are very fortunate that there is no case of Covid-19 here,” Agafili reiterated.
Asked to comment on the plight of Samoan sailor, Aisoli Te’o Faapusa, who has been detained in America by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, he said: “We haven’t received any information about that.”