Visas issued to charity staff stranded in Afghanistan

23 Aug 2021 News

Staff working for the animal rights charity Nowzad have been granted visas to leave Afghanistan, its founder said this morning.

The government had been under growing pressure to help the charity’s staff, who are trapped in the Afghan capital Kabul after Taliban militants took control of the country a fortnight ago.

On Wednesday, prime minister Boris Johnson pledged that his government would do “everything we can” to support the charity, which is registered in both the UK and United States.

In a video posted on Twitter today, Pen Farthing praised Johnson and said that the prime minister “has granted our visas for our 68 staff”. 

The charity has also been able to raise around £200,000 to charter a flight which will help the staff and some of the animals under their care leave Afghanistan.

Kabul airport

However, the charity still faces difficulties getting its staff safely through security at Kabul airport. At least seven people died outside the airport over the weekend in crushes as crowds of people tried to get to flights and flee Afghanistan.

Dominic Dyer, an animal welfare campaigner who has been working with Farthing, told the PA news wire that reaching the airport was now “the main obstacle” to charity staff leaving the country. 

Dyer said that the charity has “an aeroplane, an A340 airbus, with significant capacity for the people and the animals” ready for the evacuation.

He added that the government was also helping Nowzad deal with “the issues around the dogs coming”, so that quarantine rules did not block the evacuation of some animals.

Heartbreaking

Farthing, a former royal marine, established the charity after adopting a stray dog in Helmand Province during a tour of duty in 2006.

Speaking just before the Taliban retook power in Kabul, Farthing had said: “It is just absolutely heartbreaking.

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

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