UPDATE: According to tweets from British animal activists Peter Egan and Dominic Dyer, who have been keeping in touch with NOWZAD representatives, Pen Farthing and his animals have just landed at Heathrow Airport safely. His staff was unable to board, but they continue their efforts to evacuate their people.
Farthing and his staff have faced an enormous amount of animosity from both politicians and the public for refusing to leave their shelter animals behind, but they were determined in their mission to save lives.
More details as they emerge.
As the country falls to the Taliban, an animal rescue charity in Afghanistan is pleading for help to transport its staff and animals to safety.
Nowzad, which was founded by ex-Royal Marine Commando Pen Farthing, is in danger of its facility in Kabul, Afghanistan being infiltrated by the Taliban due to the military group’s recent takeover of the country.
Now, the rescue staff and nearly 200 animals are at risk. Nowzad has launched a fundraiser called Operation Ark to help cover the cost of transporting the staff and animals to the United Kingdom via a cargo plane. Animal advocates from around the globe are rushing to help the organization raise the funds necessary to get the team and animals to safety.
“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,” animal welfare campaigner Dominic Dyer said. “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. As a nation of animal lovers, we must step up and rescue the animal rescuers.”
Comedian Ricky Gervais, who is a patron of Nowzad, has also called on the public to help the rescue with monetary donations that will help the team bring dozens of animals as well as its staff to safety.
“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 programs which have benefited their community,” Gervais said. “Their lives are now in danger. They need our help now.”
Downton Abbey star Peter Egan has also stepped in to spread the word, noting that working in a war zone over the past decade has put an immense amount of stress on the charity.
“Now that the Taliban will certainly overrun Kabul in the next few days, the lives of all of his [Pen’s] team are in danger,” Egan said. “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.”
An estimated 98 dogs, 88 cats, and 25 staff members will need to be flown to safety. With the world’s help, they can all be spared.
To contribute to this urgent fundraiser, you can make a donation on the Nowzad website.