U.K.'s Defence Secretary is not clearing a slot for Paul Farthing's flight which is funded by donations, arguing people should be prioritized and flown out before animals.
Paul "Pen" Farthing, a former British Marine, hopes to rescue 200 shelter dogs and cats from Kabul. But getting the green light to fly a plane in the country recently taken over by the Taliban has turned out to be rather difficult as the U.K. Defence Secretary is arguing the resident should be prioritized and flown out of there first. But for Farthing, this initiative hits close to home. Having served as a Royal Marine for 22 years, he established the Nowzad animal shelter in Afghanistan back in 2006, according to The Guardian. But now, given the tense situation, Farthing hopes to fly all his staff, the rescued 140 dogs, and 60 cats from the Afgan capital to safety.
Farthing, his team members, and their families were presented visas by the U.K. government to evacuate earlier this week. However, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace initially said that the privately chartered flight, which was funded by donations,won't be allowed to take off with animals on board. "I served Queen and country for 22 years, I never ever, ever thought that I would be treated like this in return," the former Marine told Good Morning Britain earlier this week of the mission he calls "Operation Ark." The same day, Wallace posted his response on Twitter to share his side of the story and explain the logic behind the decision.
"Now that Pen Farthing's staff have been cleared to come forward under LOTR I have authorized MOD to facilitate their processing alongside all other eligible personnel at HKIA. At that stage, if he arrives with his animals we will seek a slot for his plane," he wrote in a Twitter post. In a follow-up tweet, the secretary added, "If he does not have his animals with him he and his staff can board an RAF flight. I have been consistent all along, ensuring those most at risk are processed first and that the limiting factor has been flow THROUGH to airside NOT airplane capacity." He continued, "No one has the right in this humanitarian crisis to jump the queue."
He waa never going to jump the queue, you totally misunderstood his mission, he wanted you to enable a slot for his plane. This delay has not been productive. And you really think he was going to turn his back on his people and animals. You misjudged @PenFarthing. #OperationArk— Rebecca Bose-Blundell (@BlundellBose) August 25, 2021
While speaking to ITV News on Wednesday, Farthing made it a point to stree on the seriousness of the situation. "We don't have a plane in the coming days, right now there is a rift between Boris Johnson and the Ministry of Defense," he explained. "My direct line to the MoD has been cut off, they have left me, one of their own out here on their own." He concluded by reminding everyone, "We are running out of time, we have seen today the Taliban is not going to extend the flight corridor deadline past the end of August... I need to be getting down to that airfield now. I am not going to take any resources, we have our own supplies. If we can not get that flight then these animals are going to die on that airfield."
Make sure you have space for the cars! No doubt funded by the tax payer even if military, really a car before humans or animals? pic.twitter.com/0GoEZI339d— MontyTheTuxedo (@MontyTuxedo) August 25, 2021
Cover image source: Instagram | Nowzad Rescue