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Britons rally to bring animal aid worker, Afghan staff and animals home

Updated 27 Aug, 2021
Pen Farthing set up Nowzad after serving in Afghanistan. Nowzad
Pen Farthing set up Nowzad after serving in Afghanistan. Nowzad

Just when it seemed that British ex-Marine and animal aid worker Pen Farthing was about to leave Kabul, the blast occurred and new rules meant he was no longer allowed to fly out of Afghanistan.

Farthing and the story of him trying to leave with his rescued cats and dogs had captured worldwide attention as he desperately tried to secure passage out of Afghanistan when the Taliban took control.

Farthing served in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s and then set up the Nowzad animal shelter, rescuing dogs, cats and donkeys. When the Taliban took control of Kabul, Farthing said he would not leave without his staff and animals.

The UK made a special provision to grant his request and a private plane was initially arranged for this purpose but it was declared to dangerous to go.

Farthing had turned to Twitter to make appeals and called the plan "Operation Ark" which would require safe passage for him, his staff and their families and 200 animals -- 140 dogs and 60 cats.

He tweeted his appeal to Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen on August 21.

On Friday, he managed to get everyone on the plane but the blast occurred and new rules meant the US was in charge of the airport and he could not leave.

He told BBC News: "All hell broke loose at the airport circle which is where I was, which is probably about a mile from the explosions across at the Abbey Gate and we had Taliban there firing into the air."

He continued: "And as we were trying to then flee from the airport we were getting tear-gassed so we were obviously trying to drive the vehicle when we can't see anything. It was just the most horrific thing."

Since news of his inability to leave Friday night and the possbility that only he will be allowed to go, went public, social media users have began flooding timelines of lawmakers in a desperate attempt to get Farthing with his staff and animals out.

Despite having UK approval to leave Afghanistan, new rules means Taliban are only allowing people with passports and valid visas into the airport.

People on social media are making appeals and praying for his safe return with his animals.

There's been a lot of controversy regarding the return of animals over people, too.

People are still holding out for hope that he makes it home safe.

People have also used the opportunity to tweet to the US President appealing he allow the animals safe passage.