After serving in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s, ex-Royal Marine Pen Farthing founded the Nowzad shelter for rescued animals in Kabul. Since the collapse of the Afghan government, Farthing has been campaigning to have his 200 animals and staff evacuated by the UK government.
After days of campaigning by former Royal Marine Pen Farthing for the evacuation of his 200 rescued animals and staff from Afghanistan under his plan dubbed “Operation Ark”, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace on Wednesday gave him the go-ahead to fly out of the country.
In a series of tweets made on Wednesday, Wallace stated that Farthing’s staff had been cleared to fly to the UK under the Leave Outside the UK Immigration Rules (LOTR) and that the Ministry of Defence had been authorised to facilitate the processing of the staff’s papers “alongside all other eligible personnel” at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul.
He also added that “if he [Farthing] arrives with his animals we will seek a slot for his plane”.
Earlier, Farthing accused the UK’s Defence Ministry of delaying his evacuation plan Operation Ark, sparking social media uproar.
He had chartered a $500,000 plane to land at Kabul Airport and take his Nowzad shelter’s charity workers and rescue animals out of the country. Later, Farthing shared on social media that his privately-funded flight had been delayed due to paperwork, while Wallace told Good Morning Britain on 24 August that he could not put “animals before people” and “no one has the right to jump the queue”.
Wallace had previously said that the private jet would merely “block the airfield” and “sit there empty”, with the government prioritising the rescue of people over the airlifting of animals.
“It’s about getting onto the airfield. If he was to get to the airfield now… I would have to push people out of the way to prioritise his people onto an airplane that is there”, Wallace told Good Morning Britain.
After Wallace’s announcement to allow Pen and his animals to be evacuated, netizens, who were supporting Farthing’s campaign, are rejoicing and calling it a big victory.
British actor Peter Egan, who was supporting Pen on social media, took to social media and thanked Prime Minister Boris Johnson for helping him and his animals and staff airlift from Kabul.
After President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and the *Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on 15 August, fear and panic started spreading among the general public for their safety under the militants’ rule.
*A terrorist group banned in Russia and many other nations.