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French tourists to cough up war zone rescue costs
22 July 2009
Agence France Presse

French tourists who run into trouble after travelling to war-torn parts of the globe could be asked to pay back the cost of rescuing them under a bill unveiled Wednesday.

Presented to the French cabinet by Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, the bill targets "French nationals who travel without a valid reason to dangerous areas, despite being warned of the dangers they face."

The state would ask them to reimburse all or part of the costs incurred from rescue operations, as part of a drive to make citizens "act responsibly," said a government statement.

Part of the aim is also to persuade travellers to take out better insurance, said the foreign ministry, pointing out that evacuating French nationals during street protests in Thailand in 2008 cost hundreds of thousands of euros.

The French state was called in to help after a young couple's yacht was seized by pirates off the Somali coast last April, mounting a commando operation in which one hostage was killed.

State officials also stepped in after one of a group of French tourists was kidnapped in May in Pakistan's restive southwest.

If approved by parliament the new measures would also apply to transport companies, insurers and travel agents who "fail in their obligations".

But the bill would still concern no more than five percent of the rescue cases handled by the foreign ministry's crisis centre, the ministry said.

Asked whether the reimbursement rules would also apply to kidnapping ransoms, the ministry replied that France's official policy was not to pay for the release of its nationals.

Under a 1985 law, French citizens already have to reimburse the state for mountain rescue operations if they are found to have caused an accident by taking excessive risks.

4,469 Posts

No it's not, because official travel warnings often say very little about actual risks. They put up warnings to cover their a**. One minor incident and the country should be off limits? In most cases it's not as black and white as with Bagdad.

These discussions are very frequent in socialist countries in Europe, btw. I always found that very amusing, and it's always the people who benefit the most from the gov. who scream the loudest when someone else gets benefits too. Maybe they ought to try the American way. :)
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