Pet rescue

British soldier rescues Afghan pet puts UK evacuation efforts on defense

A former Royal Marine has enlisted the help of British forces to transport 200 rescue animals on a chartered plane

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(Bloomberg) – As the airlift operation of Afghans desperate to flee the Taliban regime enters its final hours, an argument has arisen over the evacuation of hundreds of cats and dogs by a former British serviceman.

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Amid scenes of chaos at Kabul airport, Pen Farthing, a former member of the British Royal Marines, succeeded in enlisting the help of British forces with his plan to fly 200 rescue animals on a chartered plane to this effect. The animals can come out, but the Afghan staff of his Nowzad charity group will be left behind.

While many supported the effort, which Farthing dubbed Operation Ark, others were angry that with just a few hours before the UK evacuation operation was completed, time and resources were being spent. to bring animals, rather than people, out of the country.

British Army chief Major-General Nick Carter faced tough questions on the BBC’s Radio 4 morning show on Saturday over the government’s decision to support Operation Ark. Carter was asked if he was frustrated having his staff working to take animals out.

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Britain's operation to evacuate its nationals and protected persons intensified on August 19, with planes landing in Dubai before passengers traveled to the UK.  At Al-Maktoum Airport, south of Dubai, a Royal Air Force transport plane carrying evacuees from Afghanistan took off around 10:40 GMT with another batch of passengers bound for the United Kingdom in from Kabul shortly after, noted an AFP correspondent.
Britain’s operation to evacuate its nationals and protected persons intensified on August 19, with planes landing in Dubai before passengers traveled to the UK. At Al-Maktoum Airport, south of Dubai, a Royal Air Force transport plane carrying evacuees from Afghanistan took off around 10:40 GMT with another batch of passengers bound for the United Kingdom in from Kabul shortly after, noted an AFP correspondent. Photo by Reuters

“Our priority has been to evacuate human beings,” Carter said. “We obviously worry about everything that needs to be removed, but of course these are very difficult times, and there are very difficult judgments to be made.”

Farthing had received huge publicity after using Twitter to discuss the plight of his animals and his staff’s attempt to leave Afghanistan via a non-military charter flight. In a message four days ago, Farthing wrote: “I was left on my own in Kabul. Cut from my #MOD [Ministry of Defence] hotline by the special advisor of @benwallacemp [the U.K. Defence Secretary] 22 year old Marine left lines… neither my staff nor my animals will come out now – well done.

Among the prominent supporters of Farthing was British actor and comedian Ricky Gervais who tweeted that because the animals were being carried in the cargo hold of the plane, they were not taking up space that might otherwise have been taken by the Afghans. and others trying to escape the chaos that followed the Taliban takeover of the country.

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Wallace himself entered the fray on Thursday, using his personal Twitter account to send a series of messages defending his department’s position and describing the claim he blocked the Farthing flight as a “total myth.” “I never said I wouldn’t facilitate. I said no one would be allowed to skip the line, ”Wallace wrote. The Defense Secretary accused Farthing supporters of engaging in “bullying, lying and threatening behavior” towards Defense Ministry personnel who were trying to assist in the evacuation operation.

  1. Taliban forces block roads around Kabul airport as a woman passes on August 27, 2021. After Canada announced its last flight out of Afghanistan, many cooks, guards and translators who had helped Canadians found themselves stranded.

    ‘Maybe they’ll hang me’: Fearing death, stranded former employees of Canada desperately seek another way out of Afghanistan

  2. Afghans gather by the roadside near the military section of Kabul airport on Friday, August 20, 2021, in hopes of fleeing the country after the Taliban took military control of Afghanistan.

    Taliban push back crowds at Kabul airport after seven crash dead

Following criticism of the government’s position, Farthing and his animals were finally allowed to leave on Friday. The ministry said Wallace personally intervened to obtain clearance for the rescue flight to take off from Kabul. Afghan staff at Farthing had obtained visas to leave, but were unable to pass Taliban checkpoints into the airport compound, Farthing told the Telegraph newspaper.

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On Saturday afternoon UK time, Farthing and his animals were still in Kabul. Sky News reporter Tamara Cohen tweeted that the evacuation chartered plane had arrived at the airport.

The diversion of scarce resources in the final days of the Afghan rescue mission to save pets has not proved universally popular. An article in British center-right magazine The Spectator criticized the move. “The British state has chosen to devote part of its resources to assisting the removal of animals from Afghanistan. These resources cannot be used for other purposes, ”wrote James Kirkup, director of the Social Market Foundation think tank.

“There are probably a lot of words for this situation, but the only one I can think of [sic]: ashamed.

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