President Joe Biden’s administration is reportedly charging American citizens upwards of $2,000 to board evacuation flights out of Afghanistan’s only operational airport.
Those that make their way through armed Taliban checkpoints and into the airport could then be charged upwards of $2,000 from the State Department to board evacuation flights, sources on the ground told Politico. Non-citizens are being charged even higher sums, the outlet reported Thursday.
Politico reported that the State Department did not deny that it was seeking payments from Americans seeking to flee the country following the Taliban’s swift takeover.
“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,” a State Department spokesperson told Politico.
Up to 15,000 American citizens remained in Afghanistan as of Tuesday, NBC News reported.
The American embassy in Kabul announced on Wednesday that it “cannot guarantee safe passage” for Americans traveling to the city’s airport. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday that the military doesn’t have the capability to rescue Americans that can’t make their way to the airport, and the State Department acknowledged Thursday that there have been reports of Taliban forces blocking American citizens from reaching the airfield.
State Department Spokesman Ned Price told the Daily Caller News Foundation following the publication of this story that the Biden administration has “no intention of seeking any reimbursement from those fleeing Afghanistan,” a statement that seemingly contradicts the U.S. Embassy’s alert on Saturday that clearly stated that repatriation flights out of Afghanistan are not free.
Americans who can’t afford a ticket out of Afghanistan can apply for a loan, but if they don’t pay it back their passport won’t be renewed, the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan said in a security alert Saturday.
“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 security alert stated. “The cost may be $2,000USD or more per person.”
Air Force C-17 aircraft have evacuated thousands of people out of Afghanistan this week, but many of the flights have been half empty because of chaos in and around the Kabul airport, according to multiple reports.
I've now received messages from four people (including Australians and visa holders) trying to get to Kabul's airport for a planned evacuation flight. All say they can't get into the terminal because of massive crowds. Gunfire is echoing. They fear they won't be able to get out
— Stephen Dziedzic (@stephendziedzic) August 19, 2021
“While there have been nearly 6,000 evacuations many flights are leaving half empty due to the chaos outside the airport,” tweeted Ian Pannell, an ABC reporter in Afghanistan.
Although the Americans control the airport, just yards away were scenes of chaos. The Taliban fired their weapons in the air and were beating women and children in the crowds. Over a dozen people were reportedly injured in a crush.
— Ian Pannell (@IanPannell) August 19, 2021
“Although the Americans control the airport, just yards away were scenes of chaos. The Taliban fired their weapons in the air and were beating women and children in the crowds,” Pannell added. “Over a dozen people were reportedly injured in a crush.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect comment from the State Department.
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