Citizens Stranded in War Zone after US Shreds Passports
A recent news story highlights why a duplicate passport from your own country is essential.
You need your travel document most to escape a war zone or a natural disaster. That’s what people in Sudan thought too. Those trying to escape and applying for US or French visas to flee the war-ravaged country were astounded to find out that American and French officials had destroyed their passports.
The officials admitted that they destroyed the passports. However, they claimed that they were following protocol.
Diplomats from foreign governments, including Americans and French, fled the country at the outbreak of hostilities. They even abandoned their citizens in the country rather than staying to help them escape.
Those Without Duplicate Passports Trapped
Those without their passports are now trapped in the war-torn country. An engineer who expected to receive a US visa claimed, “I can hear the warplanes and the bombing from my window. I’m trapped here with no way out.”
It’s not like they have anywhere else to get a new passport. Government services in the country are shuttered.
The US has previous form for doing this. They also destroyed Afghan passports before abandoning the country in 2021.
According to the US State Department, it was “standard operating procedure” to shred documents that “could fall into the wrong hands and be misused”.
“Because the security environment did not allow us to return those passports safely, we followed our procedure to destroy them rather than leave them behind unsecured,” they claimed.
Bureaucrats Don’t Care About Citizens
None of us would like to find ourselves in a war-torn country at the outset of hostilities. Most would expect their government to help them evacuate. Unfortunately, more often than not, that’s not the way it goes down. Government bureaucrats are rarely there when you need them and often around when you don’t, such as to collect taxes and enforce petty regulations.
While most reading this will never expect to find themselves stranded in a place like Sudan, it’s worth thinking about situations that might cause you to leave the country at short notice. It’s essential we’re always prepared for any eventuality.
Second Residences and Citizenships Essential
Second residencies and citizenships are essential. They take time to organize, so we must plan well in advance. Everyone can get a duplicate passport from their government. It’s available right now with a bit of form-filling for a few hundred dollars.
It also pays to ensure you have plenty of time left on your current passport. Delays in issuing passports have plagued many Western countries in recent months. Sometimes these delays can last for months.
Not to mention the sometimes arbitrary restrictions placed by governments on renewing passports. Your passport renewal can be blocked for owing taxes in the US. Other governments block passport issuance for an array of petty offences.
Don’t Lose Ability to Travel
Your government will tell you that you don’t own your passport. The government does. That means they can confiscate it or block you from using it anytime.
Whether you think you may be stranded in a war zone or not, it makes sense to take precautions to ensure that you’re always able to travel.
How to Get a Duplicate Passport
Every country issues duplicate passports if you ask them. They hate doing it, though. The US will only issue a duplicate passport for two years. Other countries, like the UK, will issue them for the full term. You must contact the passport office and fill out the standard application form. This must be accompanied by a letter that explains why you need the duplicate passport. It’s better if the letter comes from an employer. It should explain your travel plans in the coming few months and how you will have to travel while your primary passport is at a foreign embassy for a visa.