Government must ‘get a grip’ on Kabul airport – Nowzad campaigner

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A leading animal welfare activist campaigning to get a British veteran out of Afghanistan has urged the UK and US governments to “get a grip” on the “anarchy” still unfolding at Kabul airport.

Dominic Dyer set up Rescue the Animal Rescuers campaign, which is pressuring the Prime Minister to evacuate ex-marine Paul Farthing along with the Afghan staff at his animal sanctuary, Nowzad, who he has said he will not leave without.

But Mr Farthing shared a video on Wednesday night showing gunshots being fired at Kabul Airport, saying there was a “humanitarian disaster” and urging Boris Johnson and other leaders: “You MUST get a grip of this. NOW.”

The veteran, known as Pen, said in a Tweet: “We are NOT moving. No permission from Boris Johnson and how would we get through this with families and animals?”

Mr Dyer told PA he had been in touch with Pen and the airport was still “utter chaos”.

Speaking late on Wednesday night, he said: “It’s still utter chaos… it looks even worse to be honest in terms of what’s going on there tonight.

“Gunshots are being fired and people are going in all directions, it’s just absolute chaos.

Pen Farthing, who is trying to leave Afghanistan e in Afghanistan
Pen Farthing founded animal rescue charity Nowzad after serving in Helmand province (PA Media)

“Tomorrow I think there’s going to be a whole mounting crisis because it’s clear that that airport is just complete anarchy.”

He added he believes there has been progress in the mission to get Mr Farthing’s staff on the list of people the UK Government will provide sanctuary for, but the airport mayhem means it is currently still not physically possible to get them out.

“Pen’s been trying to talk to the British Government about what the options are for getting people out and I think we’re progressing that,” he said.

“We know in Government the wheels are moving.

“But the problem is how you physically get people into that airport. When it comes to nightfall it seems to get worse.

“He is extremely frustrated, angry, unhappy and concerned and he feels that there’s not many people on the ground in Kabul actually trying to explain what’s going on.”

Mr Dyer said he has spoken with Government ministers and Boris Johnson’s wife Carrie to “put pressure on him”.

He said: “The Prime Minister in the Commons today was put on the spot and had to say that he knew all about this, because he does.

“His wife has been talking to him about it and we know ministers have been going at it and he’s been bombarded by messages going left right and centre and he can’t get away from it.”

Mr Farthing previously said that Western governments who once gave people in Afghanistan hope have now “abandoned them to the wolves”.

After serving in the Afghan province of Helmand in the mid-2000s, he set up Nowzad 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.

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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