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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Afghanistan: Pen Farthing ‘so happy’ as rescue workers escape


Former Royal Marine Paul “Pen” Farthing said the campaign to evacuate workers at his animal shelter from Afghanistan has been “a complete success”.

Mr Farthing was forced to leave behind 68 staff and family members when he and 150 animals were evacuated from Kabul last month.

The staff is now in Pakistan, under the supervision of the British High Commission.

They will be brought to the UK in the coming days, according to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Mr Farthing’s Nowzad animal shelter in Kabul, which cared for dogs, cats, and donkeys, some of which belonged to British servicemen and women, became a cause dear to many Britons as the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

However, when the Afghan staff were unable to leave during the frantic mass evacuation, it raised concerns that animals had been prioritised over people.

Mr Farthing, who insisted that his evacuation mission, Operation Ark, was intended for both people and animals, stated that the staff are “now safely in Islamabad” and are being supported by the British High Commission.

He stated that he had seen photos of staff and family members, including 25 children and a newborn baby, after their arrival in Pakistan, and that the smiles on their faces “just tell you everything you need to know.”

He described the operation as a “complete success.” “This is completely mind-boggling. It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”

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Mr Raab said on Twitter that he was pleased the staff of Nowzad had successfully crossed the border into Pakistan, adding that the British High Commission staff are assisting them and “we look forward to welcoming them to the UK in the coming days”.

The Afghan staff had previously made it to the airport with paperwork from the British government to leave, but Mr Farthing said last-minute changes by the US authorities to require a passport with a visa meant they were not allowed into the airport.

Despite the wave of public support for the animal shelter, the evacuation mission had caused controversy, with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace saying that some of Mr Farthing’s supporters had “taken up too much time” of senior commanders as they struggled to get to grips with a humanitarian crisis.Mr Farthing also apologised for leaving an expletive-laden message for a government aide as he tried to arrange the rescue of his staff and animals.

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