[Rushtalk] Are US citizens being asked to pay $2, 000 for evacuation flights out of Kabul?

Carl Spitzer {C Juno} cwsiv at juno.com
Sun Aug 22 07:51:30 MDT 2021

Are US citizens being asked to pay $2,000 for evacuation flights out of

by Jerry Dunleavy, Justice Department Reporter & Daniel Chaitin, Deputy
News Editor | 
 | August 19, 2021 06:23 PM 
 | Updated Aug 19, 2021, 

After the State Department issued an alert over the weekend saying U.S.
citizens could have to pay $2,000 or more for evacuation flights out of
Afghanistan, a report indicated people hoping to escape are being asked
to pay up.

Although U.S. officials told Politico evacuation flights out of Kabul
would be free, its National Security Daily newsletter reported some
sources said otherwise, including one who said State Department staff
were asking for up to $2,000 per U.S. citizen and more from noncitizens.

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 any reimbursement from
those fleeing Afghanistan.”

A security alert published on the website of the Overseas Security
Advisory Council, part of the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic
Security, was issued over the weekend on "repatriation assistance" for
U.S. citizens in Afghanistan. The bulletin published on Saturday — one
day before the Taliban swept into Kabul and Hamid Karzai International
Airport became a chaotic scene of crowds desperately trying to escape
Kabul — encouraged U.S. citizens to take advantage of commercial flights
while they remained an option, offering guidance on eligibility
requirements for those who sought charter flights.

One part of the alert said: "Repatriation flights are not free, and
passengers will be required to sign a promissory loan agreement and may
not be eligible to renew their U.S. passports until the loan is repaid.
The cost may be $2,000USD or more per person."


A separate State Department webpage , which focuses on crisis
situations, also said that generally, such 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 officers at the embassy or consulate, and if the conditions
permit, we may help U.S. citizens seeking to depart by working with the
host government, other countries, and other U.S. government agencies to
identify — and in some cases arrange — available transportation.
Regardless of the method of transportation, or who provides it, U.S.
citizens (and others who are eligible for U.S. government assistance)
are generally responsible for reimbursing the government for the cost of
their travel," the page says.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned people  on Wednesday that the U.S.
government "cannot ensure safe passage" to the airport for evacuation.
The bulletin also included a message about every American citizen
needing to fill out a "Repatriation Assistance Request" form . 

The second page of the form tells each applicant that evacuation flights
are not free and the cost could exceed $2,000 per person. Each U.S.
citizen is prompted to fill out a checklist to say he or she understands
the conditions or chooses not to continue with filling out the form.

“All passengers will need to reimburse the U.S. Government for the
flight. A promissory note for the full cost of the flight, which may
exceed $2000 per person, must be signed by each adult passenger before
boarding,” the form says. “No cash or credit card payments will be

The next question addresses loan repayment, stating that U.S. 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 live on the webpage for the U.S.
Embassy in Kabul as of late Thursday evening, the Daily Caller
reported . The Washington Examiner found an information page on the
State Department's main website dated Thursday that also directed people
to fill out the form.


Prior to the statement by Price, Politico reported a spokesperson for
the State Department did not deny that U.S. citizens were being asked to
pay for flights out of Afghanistan.

“U.S. law requires that evacuation assistance to private U.S. citizens
or third-country nationals be provided ‘on a reimbursable basis to the
maximum extent practicable.’ The situation is extremely fluid, and we
are working to overcome obstacles as they arise,” the representative

The report drew outrage from at least one member of Congress, Republican
Rep. Claudia Tenney of New York, who called on President Joe Biden to
resign and said she was drafting legislation to ensure no U.S. citizen
would have to pay for an evacuation flight out of Afghanistan.

A White House official said on Wednesday evening the United States,
which sent thousands of troops back to assist with the effort at the
Kabul airport, has evacuated nearly 6,000 people since Saturday. Price
said on Thursday that there were 6,000 people at the airport in Kabul
who have been "fully processed by our consular team and will soon board

Biden told ABC News on Wednesday that U.S. forces will remain in
Afghanistan until all U.S. citizens are evacuated, even if that means
keeping them there past the Aug. 31 deadline for a complete withdrawal.


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