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Charter plane arrives in Kabul to collect Pen Farthing and his animals

Written by on 28/08/2021

A charter plane has successfully arrived in Kabul to collect Pen Farthing and his rescue animals, Sky News understands.

British troops will load up dozens of cats and dogs owned by the former Royal Marine before they hope to escape Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control.

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Paul 'Pen' Farthing. Pic: Nowzad
Image: Mr Farthing’s Operation Ark campaign has proved hugely divisive, attracting huge support and controversy

Paul “Pen” Farthing‘s “Operation Ark” campaign to get his staff and animals from the Nowzad shelter out of Kabul has divided public opinion, gaining huge support but also sparking widespread controversy.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has criticised some of Mr Farthing’s supporters for “taking up too much time” of senior commanders.

It comes as Britain’s armed forces chief confirmed the UK is due to conclude its civilian evacuation operation on Saturday.

General Sir Nick Carter said there are now “very few” civilian evacuation flights arriving in Britain from Kabul.

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The final dedicated evacuation flight to the UK left Kabul overnight, defence sources said.

Thousands have been left behind – including around 1,000 Afghans who have worked alongside Britain since the war in Afghanistan began 20 years ago, Labour shadow defence secretary, John Healey, told Sky News.

Visas were granted for 24 members of Mr Farthing’s staff and their dependents.

But he refused to leave without his animals and is hoping to get 200 dogs and cats out of Afghanistan.

Mr Wallace blamed the campaign for distracting the focus on helping the most vulnerable flee during the crisis.

Despite his reservations, the Ministry of Defence last night announced on Twitter how Mr Farthing and his animals were on the brink of escape.

The tweet, said: “Pen Farthing and his pets were assisted through the system at Kabul airport by the UK Armed Forces. They are currently being supported while he awaits transportation.”

It added: “On the direction of the Defence Secretary, clearance for their charter flight has been sponsored by the UK Government.”

Ben Wallace confirms the processing centre for leaving Afghanistan is now closed
Image: Defence secretary Ben Wallace has criticised Mr Farthing for ‘taking up too much time’ of military personnel.

Mr Farthing claimed on social media how his team and rescue animals had managed to reach Kabul airport on Thursday, but were “turned away” due to changes in paperwork hours earlier.

He said his team was 300m inside Kabul Airport but ended up getting caught in the suicide bombing outside Kabul airport which has claimed the lives of two Britons and the child of a third UK national.

“Went through hell to get there & we were turned away into the chaos of those devastating explosions,” Mr Farthing said on Twitter.

But Mr Wallace criticised the former Royal Marine’s supporters for “bullying, falsehoods and threatening behaviour” towards MOD staff.

He told LBC: “I think it has taken up too much time of my senior commanders dealing with this issue when they should be focused on dealing with the humanitarian crisis.”

FILE PHOTO: Pen Farthing, founder of British charity Nowzad, an animal shelter, stands in front of a cage on the outskirts of Kabul May 1, 2012. A former Royal Marine, Farthing adopted his dog Nowzad, named after a Helmand district, during his tour there in 2006. He then set up the charity, where dogs and some cats are neutered and vaccinated against rabies before their journeys abroad. Nowzad has given homes to over 330 dogs since it was founded, mostly to soldiers from the U.S. and Britain, bu
Image: Pen Farthing, pictured in Kabul in 2012, refused to leave Kabul without his rescue animals

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Mr Farthing adopted his dog, Nowzad, named after a district in Helmand, during a tour of Afghanistan in 2006.

He later set up the charity to make sure dogs and some cats are neutered and vaccinated against rabies before travelling abroad.

Nowzad has now homed more than 300 dogs since it was founded – withy many going to soldiers from the USA and Britain, but also South Africa, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands.

 Sky News

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