American Samoans die while awaiting repatriation

By Hyunsook Siutaia 04 January 2021, 5:00PM

Some American Samoans who were stuck in Hawaii have died while waiting to be repatriated back to the territory, reports Hawaii News Now.

There are about 600 American Samoans currently stranded in the U.S. with American Samoans borders closed to travellers since March last year. The closure has left hundred of its residents stranded in Hawaii and all over the United States. 

Repatriation flight were pushed back to February, giving the American Samoa government time to work out its vaccinations and re-entry plans. 

The territory remains COVID-19 free for the most part of 2020, however, this has had an immense impact on separated families. 

Elisapeta Alaimaleata, a Honolulu resident and executive director of Le Fetuao Samoan Language Center, told the Hawaii News Now that her nephew had been coming to Honolulu for colon cancer treatments. 

However, her nephew, Anthony Hisatake decided that he would stop treatment and return home to American Samoa. 

"Those were his last words from my nephew to me: 'Aunty Peta, I can't wait to be on a plane home," said Alaimaleata. 

Unfortunately, her nephew, was unable to get his wish due to the travel band and had died three days before Christmas last December. 

"He was a fighter, everyone calls him the iron giant because he was very courageous," she added.

Despite the protests, Ms Alaimaleata said that dozens of American Samoans in Hawaii and across the U.S have died waiting to be repatriated. 

"It's very depressing and it can take a toll on most of our elders," she said. 

She also added that the vaccine offers new hope along with a new American Samoa Governor. Her nephew's parents will bring his ashes home when all is possible and allowed.

By Hyunsook Siutaia 04 January 2021, 5:00PM

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