Thousand of Americans remain stranded in Afghanistan, and in order to reach Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, they must first pass through multiple Taliban checkpoints.
While doing so carries the risk of extortion, beatings, harassment, and possibly death, until enough public pressure on the State Department changed the minds of decision-makers at the top, Americans would have been subject to upwards of $2,000 evacuation fees, the New York Post reported.
Media outlets reported last week that Americans attempting to leave Afghanistan were set to receive bills of $2,000 — or more — for evacuation flights out of Kabul.
“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,’” a State Department spokesperson was quoted as saying. “The situation is extremely fluid, and we are working to overcome obstacles as they arise.”
That statement quickly led to a public outcry, and on Friday, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told The Hill that the evacuation fee was being waved. “In these unique circumstances, we have no intention of seeking any reimbursement from those fleeing Afghanistan,” Price explained.
According to the Daily Caller News Foundation, the State Department hasn’t yet issued assurances that those who have already been charged will receive any form of reimbursement.
Critics say confusion over evacuation charges is yet another example of the ineptitude with which President Joe Biden and his administration have handled the situation in Afghanistan.
Biden vs. Trump
One of those critics is former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and during a recent interview, he highlighted the contrast between President Donald Trump’s record and how his successor has operated.
“Everyone knows that President Trump wanted to get our young men and women back home,” Pompeo told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday.
“We began the march towards doing that, but we always knew that conditions had to be right to achieve that and we had to have the situation the ground right to do that,” he continued.
Pompeo added, “This administration just willy-nilly whipped the military out of there, leaving civilians, equipment, all of those things behind.”
As Fox News reported, those remarks came the same day that National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN that the U.S. government still does not know how many Americans remain in Afghanistan.