Afghanistan animal shelter allowed to leave Kabul with staff and animals

The United Kingdom announced that it would evacuate staff and animals of a charity sanctuary in Afghanistan.

Royal Marine veteran Paul “Pen” Farthing founded the Nowzad animal shelter, rescuing dogs, cats and donkeys after serving in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s.

He has said he would not leave the country without his staff or animals.

He accused UK ministers of cutting him off after supporters funded a chartered plane.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace now says that if Mr Farthing arrives at Kabul airport with his animals “we will seek a slot for his plane”.

“If he does not have his animals with him, he and his staff can board an RAF flight,” he added on Twitter.

On Tuesday, Mr Wallace said he was not prepared to prioritise animals ahead of the evacuation of people “in real danger”.

He said he couldn’t push them through Taliban checks or crowds.

“The important thing about this mission is that it’s a humanitarian mission. It is to rescue Pen Farthing, his 68 staff, and 130 other vulnerable Afghan people,” Vet Iain McGill said.

“It will also rescue over 150 cats and dogs, many of them belonging to UK servicemen and women. The important thing is that every seat on that plane will be filled on the flight back to the UK.”

On Tuesday, Mr Farthing had told Sky News that he had never asked for pets to be prioritised over people and was prepared to wait for the go-ahead for his own aircraft to take off.

“I’ve got absolutely no confirmation,” he said and “nothing in writing” to prevent staff being stopped and turned around at a Taliban checkpoint.