Desperate campaign to rescue staff and animals from ex-Marine’s charity in Afghanistan

Afghanistan: 'US & UK have created humanitarian crisis' says ex-soldier

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The Rescue the Animal Rescuers campaign is calling for staff from Nowzad, which was founded by ex-Royal Marine Commando Pen Farthing after he befriended a stray dog while serving in Helmand in 2006, to be evacuated to the UK. The charity has an animal shelter and veterinary clinic in Kabul where Mr Farthing has refused to leave his team of 24 Afghan nationals, including women who have trained as vets but are now fearing for their future under the Taliban’s rule.

The campaign – backed by celebrities including comedian Ricky Gervais and actors Dame Judi Dench and Peter Egan – is calling for the veteran’s staff and their immediate families to be given British visas.

Nowzad is also fundraising to hire a cargo plane to fly out as many of their dogs and cats as possible, which is has called Operation Ark, as the charity faces the heartbreaking prospect of putting animals in their care to sleep.

Leading animal welfare campaigner Dominic Dyer, who is spearheading Rescue the Animals Rescuers, said: “Over the last decade through the incredible work of Nowzad a new generation of Afghan men and women have been educated and empowered to bring about a significant improvement in animal welfare in Afghanistan.

“These men and women have worked tirelessly and courageously in the most dangerous of conditions to save and protect animals and have become an inspiration to the world.

“We cannot leave these brave and compassionate people behind to face violent reprisals, rape or murder at the hands of the Taliban, as a nation of animal lovers we must step up and Rescue the Animal Rescuers.”

Comedian and animal lover Mr Gervais, who is a patron of Nowzad, has also thrown his weight behind the campaign.

He said: “Pen Farthing and his team Nowzad have done amazing work for over a decade in Kabul, they have saved thousands of dogs and provided work for the local community and instigated educational programmes which have benefited their community.

“Their lives are now in danger. They need our help now.”

Downton Abbey and After Life actor Mr Egan, also a patron of Nowzad, added: “Working in a war zone has always made extraordinary demands on this wonderful charity, demands that were met by Pen and his team.

“Now that the Taliban will certainly overrun Kabul in the next few days his life and the lives of all of his team are in danger.

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“They need our help, we must not ignore them in their hour of need. We must get Pen, his team and his animals to safety. It is not impossible to achieve, it just takes commitment.”

Dame Judi said: “Pen Farthing and his team at Nowzad have achieved so much in terms of animal welfare and educational work benefiting the local community, particularly for the women Nowzad has sponsored to become qualified vets.

“All of their lives are now threatened by the Taliban.”

British troops are racing against the clock to get remaining UK nationals and their local allies out of Afghanistan following the dramatic fall of the country’s Western-backed government.

There have been chaotic scenes at Kabul airport as Afghans and foreigners scramble to leave.

Express.co.uk has contacted the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office for comment.

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