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More repatriation flights from Samoa to include specialized workers

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga
Many requests received from local companies, says Iulogologo

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — With more local residents stranded in Apia, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has approved additional repatriation flights so all local residents can be returned to American Samoa along with specialized workers needed in the territory.

At Sunday’s government coronavirus task force meeting, Health director Motusa Tuileama Nua — during the DoH presentation — said the ASG has completed the third and final phase of the Samoa repatriation flights. This was done on June 30 and July 2nd. Motusa did note that DoH will work with the Attorney General’s Office to ensure that all local residents have been repatriated. (See Samoa News Tuesday edition for details.)

However, Samoa News received local inquiries Monday night claiming that they still have relatives stranded in Samoa and questioned whether ASG will continue repatriation flights to return everyone home.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries, task force chairman Iulogologo Joseph Pereira said yesterday morning that the “Governor has authorized additional flights to ensure that all our legal residents still in Samoa are repatriated along with the Technical and Skilled workers approved by the Governor.”

Asked if task force has a tally of how many local residents are still stranded in Apia, Iulogologo said he has been informed by the acting Attorney General that 80 have been approved OK Boards to return to American Samoa.

So the AG will work with Motusa to “schedule appropriate flights to bring the remaining legal American Samoa residents home,” said Iulogologo, who is also the Governor’s executive assistant.

“Given the new cases emerging in New Zealand the Governor wants the repatriation program completed as soon as possible,” he pointed out.

Regarding the “Technical and Skilled workers” recruited from Samoa, the governor announced June 30th a “one-time opportunity” to recruit specialized personnel, following “numerous requests” from local businesses and ASG agencies. The requests to bring in workers were to be submitted to the Governor for approval on July 3rd. (See Samoa News edition July 1st for details.)

Asked how many requests have been received by the Governor’s Office from local businesses and ASG agencies that need specialized personnel from Samoa, Iulogologo responded,  “We are currently tallying the number but so far — many requests have been received for technical and skilled workers required by local companies.”

While there has been some local criticism about recruitment from Samoa, the governor outlined information required with the request. And that is the request must “provide full and detailed description of the person’s professional credentials, specialized skills, specific needs of the business or ASG agency justifying the need for the individual, duration the person is required, proof of effort expended to recruit the required type of skill on island, and any information that would show an “overwhelming need for the skills or credentials” being recruited.