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Veteran trapped in Afghanistan says country has been ‘abandoned to wolves’


By PA News

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Pen Farthing, founder of animal rescue charity Nowzad (PA)

A veteran trapped in Afghanistan has said Western governments who gave young people in the country hope have now “abandoned them to the wolves”.

Former Royal Marine Commando and founder of the Nowzad animal charity Paul Farthing tried to organise his wife’s escape via Kabul Airport on Tuesday, but said she became “crushed” in the uncontrolled crowd.

After serving in the Afghan province of Helmand in the mid-2000s, Mr Farthing, known as Pen, set up the sanctuary which has been rescuing stray dogs, cats and other animals for 15 years.

He has urged the British Government to help his staff, their dependants and the animals leave Afghanistan under a campaign called Operation Ark, which aims to fundraise £200,000.

The veteran said he will not leave the country without the 71 refugees.

Another campaign called Rescue the Animal Rescuers has called on the Prime Minister to include the Nowzad staff along with workers at another Kabul animal charity the Mayhew, on the British Rescue list.

Dominic Dyer, a leading animal welfare activist who helped start this campaign, told PA he has been in touch with Mr Farthing after his wife tried to leave via Kabul Airport.

He said: “The situation as it stands is that Pen has tried to get his wife and his office manager out of Kabul on a commercial flight, on the basis that the governments in Britain and America were saying the airport was more secure, but when he got there he found it wasn’t secure at all.

“They were crushed when they got the airport, it was very dangerous.

“He was very angry that UK military forces deployed on the other side of the fence did not actually step over the line to try and stop the situation, leaving civilians and foreign nationals trying to exit the country in a very dangerous position.

“I do think it raises serious concerns about what is going to happen unless those soldiers and armed forces are able to exit the airport security cordon to take more control of the surrounding areas – at the moment that’s just not happening.”

Prior to this, Mr Farthing said he has “never been as worried and frightened about the future as I am now with what is happening in Afghanistan”.

He added: “Our Western governments gave the young generations of Afghanistan hope for the future, and in one swift stroke of a White House pen they abandoned them to the wolves.

“Everyone who cares for compassionate caring people now needs to step up and let their voices be heard. They have no future if you do not.

“Reach out to press, MPs, senators and presidents and prime ministers.

“Western soldiers died in Afghanistan for this brief future we gave the Afghan people. Their loss was clearly now for nothing.

“More than ever the people of Afghanistan, the real people who are just like you and me with aspirations and hope, need our voices and our governments’ intervention.

“The withdrawal from Afghanistan was a terrible mistake.”

He has pleaded with ministers to help his Afghan staff, whose refuge in the UK is not included in the two existing schemes for interpreters and British government workers.

Mr Dyer added that although he believes the Government will add the vets to the list due to huge public pressure, the logistics of “getting them out” is rapidly becoming a “bigger worry” than “getting them on the list”.

“I think that’s where the governments of the United States and Britain have to sort themselves out quickly. It’s a logistics security issue,” he said.

A team of 24 Afghan nationals treat and look after 140 dogs and more than 40 cats at Nowzad.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has been contacted for comment.

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