Former British soldier, stuck in Kabul with 200 pets, finally gets permission to leave

A former British soldier who runs an animal shelter in Kabul was caught in the “chaos” after a series of blasts ripped through the Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday. Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing, who was trying to leave Afghanistan along with his staff and hundreds of dogs and cats, is now being assisted by the UK government to leave the country.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence confirmed in a statement on Friday: “Pen Farthing and his pets were assisted through the system at Kabul airport by the UK Armed Forces. They are currently being supported while he awaits transportation. On the direction of the Defence Secretary, clearance for their charter flight has been sponsored by the UK Government.”

Farthing, who runs an NGO called Nowzad, had previously tweeted that he and his team had entered the airport perimetre, but were turned away after US President Joe Biden “changed the paperwork rules”. He explained that US clearance was sought as they “control the airport (internally) so it trumped the British paperwork we had”.

Farthing, in a tweet that went viral on social media, said, “Went through hell to get there and we were turned away into the chaos of those devastating explosions.”

“All of a sudden we heard gunshots and our vehicle was targeted, had our driver not turned around he would have been shot in the head by a man with an AK-47,” Farthing later told Britain’s Press Association news agency.

Farthing had got a privately-funded flight to relocate his pets, but was told by British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace that pets could not take priority over the evacuations of humans. His mission, which came to be known as ‘Operation Ark’, had generated much sympathy.

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