Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Pen Farthing’s ‘tears of relief’ as Afghan animal shelter workers resettle in UK

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Pen Farthing's Nowzad shelter colleagues arrive in UK
Caption: Some of Pen Farthing’s animal charity staff finally arrive from Afghanistan
PA/Twitter/ @PenFarthing

Former Marine-turned-animal rescuer Pen Farthing has told of his relief after dozens of his Afghan colleagues arrived safely in the UK.

The 52-year-old tried to get workers from his Nowzad charity evacuated on the same plane as the 162 dogs and cats he flew out from Kabul last month.

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But he was stopped by Taliban thugs who ‘put an AK47 in my face & told me they were staying’.

They later managed to travel to Islamabad, Pakistan, with their families, and have gradually been processed for resettlement and sent to the UK in groups.

A total of 50 Afghan nationals connected to the charity have now been placed in quarantine hotels across the country, with another 17 still being processed in Islamabad.

Mr Farthing said he cried seeing a photo of one family at Heathrow, adding: ‘It’s a total relief to be honest, knowing that they’re safe now in England or on their way to England and starting new lives with all the opportunities for them.

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‘We’ve got a shortage of veterinarians here in the UK so having these passionate people to add to the team is only going to help us all.

‘I’m looking forward to the day when they’re going to get out of quarantine and then I actually get to see them in person. That’s going to be absolutely amazing.’

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Some of Pen Farthing's animal charity staff finally arrive from Afghanistan
Mr Farthing said he was ‘so proud’ at seeing the families safely arriving into British airports

Nowzad, which Mr Farthing founded in 2007 after befriending a dog used by locals in Helmand for organised fights, has received offers of accommodation, jobs and support for the resettled Afghans from people in Britain.

Of the 94 dogs rescued from Afghanistan, 10 have been adopted and 30 are waiting to be rehomed.

The rest belong to people who had to leave them behind when the US and UK withdrew their military presence in the country.

Some Nowzad staff did not want to leave Afghanistan and have kept the shelter open as a donkey rescue centre.

The Essex-born, Plymouth-based former commando said he had no regrets over the charity’s handling of the evacuation.

Mr Farthing said he was ‘so bloody happy’ when his staff managed to get to Pakistan last month (Picture: PA)

He added: ‘Definitely the American government and the British government could have planned this withdrawal a lot better and in a different way, without a shadow of a doubt.

‘Recently I’ve seen that the British representative to Afghanistan has just met with the Taliban, their leadership, in Kabul.

‘That’s only a month after the withdrawal. We have to ask, why did they put everybody through that?

‘We could have had a completely different outcome to this. I think they put the emphasis on the fact it was an emergency evacuation and so everybody had to go with it.

‘There’s not a lot we could have done any differently.’

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