Did Hillary Clinton Charter Flights for Afghan Women?

Thousands of people have been trying to leave Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

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Claim

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been chartering private flights out of Afghanistan for at-risk Afghan women and children.

Rating

What's True

Hillary Clinton’s team had chartered one flight for Afghan women who were at risk according to a New York Times report. Vital Voices, an organization founded by Clinton, has been organizing and fundraising for evacuations for Afghan women.

What's Undetermined

It is not yet known if her team chartered more than one flight, and whether children were also on this flight. We have yet to determine if Clinton was working directly with Vital Voices to do so.

Origin

As the last U.S. military flight departed Kabul on Aug. 30, 2021, it left behind tens of thousands of Afghans desperate to leave the country as the Taliban took over. Since the fall of the Afghan government in mid-August, many feared that a Taliban-held Afghanistan meant an end to numerous hard-fought rights for women and girls, which enabled them to gain education, employment opportunities, and more. 

Many outside the country were desperately trying to aid in the evacuations of Afghan refugees, particularly at-risk women and girls. One such person was former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a viral Facebook post claiming that she was arranging flights for Afghan women and girls in order to get them out of the country.

The most credible source for this claim came from a New York Times report on Aug. 19, 2021, which described evacuation efforts for local employees of The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. Numerous attempts to get them out failed, The New York Times reported:

One option emerged when Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, offered a few seats for Afghan employees on a charter flight her team was trying to arrange to help Afghan women at risk, according to three people briefed on the discussions. The employees did not end up taking the flight.

Many news employees did end up making it out of Afghanistan. But this snippet of news from the report—that Clinton had arranged a charter flight out of the country—went viral. While we know of the above flight, we don’t know if Clinton’s team had arranged for more, and if there were children on the flight as well. 

Vital Voices, a non-governmental organization founded by Clinton, had also set up an emergency fund for Afghan women, which among other things was supporting evacuations from the country. According to their website, they were, “coordinating efforts and collaborating in real-time with humanitarian organizations, governments, security, and many other partners to provide safe passage for Afghan women and their families out of the country. This includes setting up safe houses, arranging secure transit and airport gate access, obtaining passports and e-visas, and other critical logistics.” They are “looking into any and all options, and working with one another to share strategies and coordinate on evacuation flights.” The effort, they say, is “ongoing.”

As per Al Arabiya, a Saudi-based media organization, one private plane chartered by the organization landed in Albania in early September, carrying 37 women and their male relatives. An unnamed government official said the plane was chartered by Vital Voices. We have reached out to the organization to confirm this, and whether this is the same flight chartered by Clinton’s team, and will update this post as we receive more information.

Given that there is one credible report about a charter flight arranged by Clinton, we rate this claim as “Mostly True.” 


Sources:

“Flight Evacuating Female Afghan Activists Chartered by Clinton NGO Lands in Albania.” Al Arabiya English, 2 Sept. 2021, https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2021/09/02/Flight-evacuating-female-Afghan-activists-chartered-by-Clinton-NGO-lands-in-Albania. Accessed 7 Sept. 2021. 

Grynbaum, Michael M., et al. “How News Organizations Got Afghan Colleagues Out of Kabul.” The New York Times, 19 Aug. 2021. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/19/business/afghanistan-news.html. Accessed 31 Aug. 2021.

Nossiter, Adam, and Eric Schmitt. “U.S. War in Afghanistan Ends as Final Evacuation Flights Depart.” The New York Times, 30 Aug. 2021. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/30/world/asia/afghanistan-us-occupation-ends.html. Accessed 31 Aug. 2021.

Recent Updates
  1. Sept. 7, 2021: Added update about Vital Voices' work in Afghanistan.
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