After the State Department issued an alert over the weekend that US citizens may have to pay $ 2,000 or more for evacuation flights out of Afghanistan, a report said people hoping to s ‘escape are asked to pay.
Although US officials have said Politico’s evacuation flights from Kabul will be free, its National Security Daily newsletter reported that some sources said otherwise, including one who said department staff State charged up to $ 2,000 per US citizen and more from non-citizens.
But, in a statement shared with the Washington Examiner on Thursday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “In these unique circumstances, we have no intention of seeking reimbursement from those who flee the US. Afghanistan. “
A security alert posted on the website of the Overseas Security Advisory Council, part of the State Department’s Office for Diplomatic Security, was issued this weekend on “assisting the repatriation” of US citizens in Afghanistan. The bulletin released on Saturday – a day before the Taliban reached Kabul and Hamid Karzai International Airport turned into a chaotic scene of crowds desperately trying to escape Kabul – urged US citizens to take advantage of commercial flights as that they remained an option, offering guidance on eligibility requirements for those who sought charter flights.
Part of the alert read, “Repatriation flights are not free, and passengers will be required to sign a promissory loan agreement and may not be eligible to renew their US passport until the loan is repaid.” The cost can be $ 2,000 or more per person. “
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A separate State Department webpage, which focuses on crisis situations, also said that generally these flights would not be free.
“In extreme situations, if there are no commercial transportation options (planes, trains, boats / ferries, etc.) available, and if we have consular officials at the embassy or consulate, and if conditions permit, we can assist US citizens seeking to leave by working with the host government, other countries, and other US government agencies to identify – and in some cases organize – available transportation assistance. government) are generally responsible for reimbursing the government for the cost of their travel, ”the page says.
The US embassy in Kabul warned people Wednesday that the US government “cannot provide a safe passage” to the airport for evacuation. The newsletter also included a message about every US citizen who must complete a “Request for Repatriation Assistance” form.
The second page of the form tells each applicant that evacuation flights are not free and that the cost can exceed $ 2,000 per person. Each U.S. citizen is asked to complete a checklist to say they understand the conditions or choose not to continue completing the form.
“All passengers will have to reimburse the US government for the flight. A promissory note for the total cost of the flight, which can exceed $ 2,000 per person, must be signed by each adult passenger prior to boarding, ”the form states. “No cash or credit card payments will be accepted. “
The next question is about repayment of the loan, indicating that US citizens “who have signed a loan agreement for repatriation may not be eligible for a new passport until the loan is repaid.”
The form was still accessible and online on the U.S. Embassy Kabul webpage on Thursday evening, the Daily Caller reported. The Washington Examiner on Thursday found an information page on the State Department’s main website that also invited people to complete the form.
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Prior to Price’s statement, Politico reported that a State Department spokesperson did not deny that U.S. citizens were being asked to pay for flights out of Afghanistan.
“US law requires that aid in the evacuation of private US citizens or third country nationals be provided” on a repayable basis to the extent possible. ” The situation is extremely fluid and we are trying to overcome obstacles as they arise, ”said the representative.
The report sparked outrage from at least one congressman, Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney of New York, who called on President Joe Biden to step down and said she was drafting laws to ensure that no US citizen would have to pay for an evacuation flight out of Afghanistan.
A White House official said Wednesday evening that the United States, which has returned thousands of troops to help with the effort at Kabul airport, has evacuated nearly 6,000 people since Saturday. Price said Thursday that there were 6,000 people at Kabul airport who have been “fully processed by our consular team and will be boarding the planes soon.”
Biden told ABC News on Wednesday that US forces will remain in Afghanistan until all US citizens are evacuated, even if that means keeping them there past the August 31 deadline for a full withdrawal.
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Key words: News, Afghanistan, State Department, National Security
Original author: Daniel Chaitin, Jerry Dunleavy
Original location: Are American citizens being asked to pay $ 2,000 for evacuation flights from Kabul?