Prime minister promises to do 'everything we can' for Nowzad charity staff

18 Aug 2021 News

The prime minister this morning pledged that his government would do “everything we can” to help staff at the charity Nowzad, who are trapped in Afghanistan.

Nowzad’s founder, former marine Pen Farthing, has called for the government to evacuate his staff, saying that he feared for their safety after Taliban militants took control of the country.

Answering questions in the House of Commons during today’s emergency debate on Afghanistan, Boris Johnson confirmed that he had already been contacted about the charity and was aware of its “excellent work”.

Safe passage

Sara Britcliffe, a Conservative MP, asked the prime minister: “Does he agree with me that we have to do everything we can to support those who have supported us? 

“Like the royal marine Pen Farthing and his Nowzad charity of veterinary staff and their immediate family, who now need safe passage back to the UK?”

Johnson replied: “I think like many of us I have been extensively lobbied on behalf of the excellent work done by Mr Pen Farthing. 

“I am well aware of his cause and all the wonderful things that he has done. 

“As for animals in Afghanistan, I can tell my honourable friend that we will do everything we can to help Mr Pen Farthing, and others who face particular difficulty like him.”

Government help

Nowzad cares for stray animals in Kabul, the Afghan capital, as well as arranging for cats and dogs to be adopted overseas. It was founded in 2006 and is registered in the UK and the United States.

Farthing, who says the charity has 71 staff, has called on the government to evacuate his colleagues and some animals from the country. Earlier he launched a campaign to raise $200,000 to charter a plane out of Afghanistan.

Thousands of people have been trying to flee the country since the weekend, when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan for the first time in 20 years.

Taliban next door

In a video posted on the charity's website yesterday 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. 

Responding the prime minister's statement today, Farthing said he was seeking specific commitments that would enable his staff to build new lives in the UK. 

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