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Suva, FIJI – September 7, 2021: 11am (The Fiji Times): More than 20 Tongan nationals stranded in Fiji since March after their home country closed its borders claim they have been neglected by their government.

The Tongan nationals claimed their government had turned a blind eye to their pleas to return home after it allowed 14 Chinese into the Kingdom late last month to work on a government project.

In a joint statement, the agitated travellers and seafarers claimed Tonga underestimated Fiji’s health system, assuming that they could get the COVID-19 virus into the country.

“Tonga trusts China, the place where COVID- 19 originated,” the statement read.

“We have been trying to communicate with Tonga, even offered alternatives for getting us home, but it seems it fell on deaf ears.

“Tonga insisted we go to New Zealand, quarantine there for 14 days, then leave for Tonga.

“Every country on this earth is committed and willing to assist in any way possible to repatriate their citizens except Tonga.”

Travellers have been stranded for over a year in different parts of the world, America, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean, before travelling to Fiji, the statement read.

“The first group completed their 14 days’ quarantine in March 2021, the second group finished their quarantine on April 8, 2021, and had the government have a COVID plan in place, both groups should have left Fiji.

“The third group completed their 14 days quarantine on April 28 2021, while our repatriation was scheduled for April 29 2021. Unfortunately, a week before our departure, a couple of COVID-19 cases were found in Fiji, and Tonga cancelled our flight.”

Meanwhile, questions sent to Tongan Minister Poasi Tei and chief secretary and secretary to Cabinet for the Prime Minister’s Office, Edgar Cocker on Wednesday last week and yesterday remained unanswered.

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