Former British Royal Marine Paul ‘Pen” Farthing has issued a desperate plea for help after he and his staff are stuck near the Kabul airport in Afghanistan while their 173 cats and dogs expected to also ship out are suffering in the stifling hot conditions.
According to the Sun, Farthing has appealed directly to the The Taliban:
My team & may animals are stuck at airport circle. We have a flight waiting. Can you please facilitate safe passage into the airport for our convoy?”
“Suhail Shaneen, We are an NGO who will come back to Afghanistan but right now I want to get everyone out safely. We have been here for 10 hours after being assured that we would have safe passage. Truly would like to go home now. Let’s prove the IEA are taking a different path.”Pen Farthing on Twitter
On Wednesday, the team had been assured by the defense secretary they would be able to use the plane they chartered with donations to safely fly back to Britain.
On their way to the airport, the team and their pets were stopped at a Taliban checkpoint, but were successfully able to thwart any major issues, however have not been able to reach the airport yet.
Now as they wait, the animals are in danger of dying from the intense heat. According to the Independent, the trucks are parked in the shade and have lifted the protective tarps to allow air flow for the animals. The staff have been spraying the crates to keep the animals cool, but there are pets in carriers in the middle of the trucks that are not accessible, and they cannot unload them in fear of attracting too much attention.
On Thursday morning, Armed Forces Minister James Heapey stated that moving “loads of desperate Afghans” was more important than allowing Farthing, his staff and 200 cats and dogs safe passage. In addition, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace had complained that Farthing’s rescue attempts for his pets had “diverted” military efforts to evacuate people.
And so Farthing, his staff and nearly 200 animals wait to board their own charter plane at Kabul airport, but are not able to enter the compound.
Armed Forces minister James Heappey stated it would be wrong to prioritize Farthing and the animals for processing over people in dire danger. According to Sky News:
“For him, it is a grim reality of these situations that as a British national we would seek to expedite his passage into the airport but he, commendably, has said that is not what he wants to do. He is asking us, the Americans and the Taliban for safe passage but I am afraid safe passage is also other words for being brought to the front of the queue. And I just wonder how you feel about having to make a decision whereby we move lots of desperate Afghans out of the way to bring him through because of the profile and the support he has. That doesn’t feel like the right thing to do. It gives me no pleasure to say that though.”
Updates to follow.
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