Animal charity calls for help to evacuate staff trapped in Afghanistan

17 Aug 2021 News

An animal charity founder has called on the UK government to help his staff leave Afghanistan, after Taliban militants took control of the country.

Yesterday Paul Farthing, Nowzad’s founder and a former royal marine, told Good Morning Britain that British and Afghan staff at the charities “are in danger” if they stay in Afghanistan.

In a video update posted on the charity's website this morning, Farthing said that the Taliban had moved in to the building next door and that he was urgently trying to help staff leave the country as they will be at risk.

“For us here at Nowzad we're coming to the end game. I cannot leave until my staff have left Afghanistan. They are not safe here,” he said. 

He appealed to people to lobby government ministers for support.

Farthing said the charity has 71 Afghan staff and that if they get to the UK the charity will help them to retrain so that they will not be a “burden on the British taxpayer”. 

Farthing said Nowzad is also in the process of rehousing animals and said there would be a further update later today. 

‘Time is very much against us’

Nowzad has also used Facebook to warn government ministers about its plight, saying that “time is very much against us” as they try to evacuate staff to safety.

Thousands of Afghans and foreign nationals have tried to flee the country since the weekend, when the Taliban took control of the country for the first time in two decades. 

Human Rights Watch reported this month that Taliban forces had detained and executed civilians associated with the previous government as they took charge of the country.

Earlier the charity launched a fundraising appeal, called Operation Ark, to try and secure $200,000 so that the charities can charter a plane to fly some staff and animals out of the country.

Caring for animals

Farthing established Nowzad after adopting a stray dog in Helmand Province during a tour of duty in 2006. The charity is registered in both the UK and United States, and it treats sick animals in Afghanistan as well as organising for cats and dogs to find new homes elsewhere. 

It had an income of just under £1m and spent £750,000 in 2019-20, according to its most recent annual accounts.

Speaking late last week, before the Taliban reached Kabul, Farthing told the media: “I can’t just leave my staff behind.

“We have got young women who work for us. What do we say to them?”

Farthing added: “My heart says I want to be here with my staff. And we have an animal shelter here – what do we do with the animals? 

“It is just absolutely heartbreaking. 

“And to see everything we have worked for over the last 20 years thrown away – I have no words.”

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