Pen Farthing reveals his staff made it out of Taliban-led Afghanistan

Relieved former Royal Marine Pen Farthing reveals his staff who worked at animal shelter in Kabul have finally made it out of Taliban-led Afghanistan

  • Pen Farthing has confirmed his staff had made it out of Afghanistan on Saturday
  • The staff from Nowzad shelter in Kabul had safely arrived in Islamabad, Pakistan
  • The former marine was working to get his 68 staff out of the Taliban-led country
  • Mr Farthing was criticised over his evacuation of nearly 200 animals from Kabul

Former Royal Marine Pen Farthing has revealed his staff who worked at an animal shelter in Kabul have finally made it out of Taliban-led Afghanistan.

Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing said it was ‘absolutely mind-blowing’ that his 68 members of staff at the Nowzad shelter had made it out of Afghanistan and arrived in the Pakistan capital on Saturday.

Mr Farthing, 52, from Essex, previously said he was working ‘every day’ to get his Afghan staff out after he was forced to leave them behind amid chaotic scenes in Kabul last month.

Sharing the good news, he tweeted that his Operation Ark campaign to get workers and animals from the Kabul shelter out of the country had been ‘a complete success’.

Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing said it was ‘absolutely mind-blowing’ that his 68 members of staff (some pictured) at Kabul’s Nowzad shelter had made it to the Pakistan capital on Saturday

Mr Farthing (pictured in May 2013), who is now in Oslo with his wife Kaisa, said he was ‘so bloody happy’ that the Nowzad staff, were safely in the care of the British High Commission

He said he was ‘so bloody happy’ that the Nowzad staff, who had reared dozens of rescued animals by hand, had safely made it to Islamabad and were in the care of the British High Commission. 

Mr Farthing, who is now in Oslo with his wife Kaisa, wrote: ‘This is absolutely mind-blowing. It has still not really sunk in.’

Alongside his post, he shared pictures of the staff grinning after their arrival in Pakistan, saying their joyful faces ‘just tells you everything you need to know’.

The former Royal Marine had been criticised over his evacuation of nearly 200 dogs and cats from Afghanistan while he was still working to get almost 70 of his ‘terrified’ staff out of the country. 

The Afghan staff were not able to leave during the hurried mass evacuation as foreign troops withdrew from the nation some two decades after US forces removed the militants from power in 2001. 

Responding to the news, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: ‘Pleased that Nowzad’s Afghan staff, who were called for evacuation, successfully crossed the border into Pakistan today. 

Mr Farthing (pictured), from Essex, previously said he was working ‘every day’ to get his Afghan staff out after he was forced to leave them behind amid chaotic scenes in Kabul

Sharing the good news, he tweeted that his Operation Ark campaign to get workers and animals from the Kabul shelter out of the country had been ‘a complete success’

‘Our @ukinpakistan staff are assisting them and we look forward to welcoming them to the UK in the coming days.’

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had complained some of Mr Farthing’s more militant supporters had ‘taken up too much time’ of senior British commanders trying to get humans out of the country.

Since arriving back in England at the end of August, Mr Farthing had been working to help evacuate 68 Nowzad animal shelter staff and family members, including 25 children and one newborn baby, from Afghanistan.

The Operation Ark campaign has caused considerable controversy, despite receiving a huge amount of public support.

Mr Farthing also apologised for leaving an expletive-laden message for a Government aide as he was trying to carry out the evacuation.

Previously speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Mr Farthing had said Operation Ark was ‘always’ about getting both people and animals out of the country.

He said: ‘We are not giving up. People think I’ve got the animals out, that’s it. It is not. Operation Ark was always people and animals. 

‘I talk to them daily. They are terrified. Our little operations room is still going every day to get them out.

‘It took a while to get the visas from the British government. If I had hammered them harder and got the visas a day before, we could have got through.’

Since arriving back in England at the end of August, Mr Farthing (pictured) had been working to help evacuate 68 Nowzad animal shelter staff and family members out of Afghanistan

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (pictured) had complained some of Mr Farthing’s more militant supporters had ‘taken up too much time’ of senior British commanders

He added: ‘They had the correct paperwork from the British government to leave, but Joe Biden had changed the rules two hours earlier to state only people with passports with a visa in would be allowed into the airport.

‘I pleaded, pleaded, pleaded with the Taliban commander. I was on the ground, pleading with him and he stuck an AK47 in my face. There was nothing I could do.’ 

Dominic Dyer, a supporter of Mr Farthing who assisted with the operation, has said the 100 dogs and 70 cats are in a ‘very good condition’ in quarantine kennels across the UK, with hundreds of people looking to adopt them.

Mr Dyer said: ‘We had a good plan of action and the animals are doing very well in the kennels – and despite the difficult journey, they’ve been durable and tough.

‘Over the next few weeks the animals will start to be rehomed, we have hundreds of people for each dog or cat- so it’s very likely all of them will be adopted and taken in by different families.

‘They are some of the most famous animals in the world right now, so there will be no shortage, but we want to be clear it’s not first come first served.

‘Nowzad is only a small charity so the process will be a slow one and there is an awful lot of work to be done.’

He said there will be a ‘screening process’ to pick the most ‘suitable homes’ for the animals.

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