If you are a US citizen unfortunate enough to get caught in a war zone, don’t expect much from the US State Department. Or at least don’t expect anything if you can’t pay for it:
The Department of State continues to work with the Department of Defense on a plan to help American citizens depart Lebanon. As of the morning of July 15, we are looking at how we might transport Americans to Cyprus. Once in Cyprus, Americans can then board commercial aircraft for onward travel. Commercial airlines provide the safest and most efficient repatriation options to final destinations.
The Department of State reminds American citizens that the U.S. government does not provide no-cost transportation but does have the authority to provide repatriation loans to those in financial need. For the portion of your trip directly handled by the U.S. Government we will ask you to sign a promissory note and we will bill you at a later date. In a subsequent message, when we have specific details about the transporation arrangments, we will inform you about the costs you will incur. We will also work with commercial aircraft to ensure that they have adequate flights to help you depart Cyprus and connect to your final destination.
Here’s a reader on Andrew Sullivan’s blog (h/t Boingboing):
I am currently enrolled in an intensive summer arabic program at the American University in Beirut, and am holed up at the university, probably the safest place in the city right now. Basically my choices have been to make a run for the border with Syria and try to catch a flight out, or wait for the USG to carry out the evacuation plan. Because I heard reports about the dangers of the former (and based on a statement by the American embassy), I opted for the latter. They are finally getting everything together today, but they dropped a little surprise: they are going to be billing us for giving us emergency transport to Cyprus, and then basically dropping us off on our own to get commercial flights back to the US. Most other goverrnments evacuating people here are actually flying them back to their home country without cost. But not the USG. They are perfectly happy to fund the World Toilet Summit (in Ireland, if my memory is correct) to the tune of $13 million or something. But 25,000 or so Americans stranded in the middle of a (quite unexpected) war zone? They better be ready to pay up if they want out.