Nowzad: Pen Farthing forced to leave Afghan staff behind as he escapes with animals

Pen Farthing has been battling to evacuate his animal shelter from Kabul (Picture: Nowzad)

Pen Farthing was forced to leave his Afghan staff behind as he saved around 150 cats and dogs from Kabul.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed last night that the founder of the Nowzad animal shelter had successfully made it through airport security and was ‘awaiting transportation.’

But it’s been revealed that the 24 employees of the charity and their families are not with him.

Nowzad supporter Pip Tomson said on Twitter: ‘I can confirm that Pen Farthing is heading back to UK with his rescue animals (not pets!) His staff are not with him. Efforts continue to evacuate them too.

Speaking to the Sun, Mr Farthing said the Taliban would not let the staff members into the airport.

He said: ‘It is just so depressing I had to leave them behind. Some of them came with me to the airport but they weren’t allowed to cross the line from Taliban to British control.’

The dramatic rescue had looked almost impossible yesterday, in the wake of a deadly terror attack that killed 170 Afghans and 13 US military personnel.

UK authorities had closed its processing centre in the Baron Hotel and announced only those already processed would be allowed to leave on the last few planes out of the capital.

Mr Farthing and his supporters have been pushing for all the dogs to be brought with them (Picture: PA)

Mr Farthing, who has dubbed the mission ‘Operation Ark’, said he got into the airport on Thursday, only for the US to change the paperwork rules.

His wife Kaisa Markhus, who herself was in Afghanistan until last week, told the Daily Mail: ‘I know Pen had a very hard choice. He faced that same choice when he was inside the airport with his staff and their families on Thursday and the animals and the staff were not allowed through.

‘So, he went back to the compound to ensure everyone was safe and to discuss with them what to do. They decided he should go to the airport again with the dogs. 

‘He was devastated to leave his staff but knew that by removing both the dogs and himself he would remove two big risk factors.’

It is not known exactly when the flight is scheduled to take off but it is thought Mr Farthing will be flying to the Uzbekistan capital Tashkent first and then onto Britain.

UK troops are working to get the last of the evacuees out of the country (Picture: PA)

Efforts to rescue the animals have dominated the headlines, in thanks part to a very vocal social media campaign backed by celebrities including comedian Ricky Gervais and Dragons Den star Deborah Meaden.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has criticised the group for taking up so much of his officials’ time as they tried to deal with the humanitarian crisis.

Although 14,543 people have been evacuated, there are still between 800 and 1,100 people who helped British forces in Afghanistan who look likely to be left behind and face an uncertain fate under Taliban rule.

Yesterday, Mr Wallace told LBC: ‘My people were focused for the last two weeks on a humanitarian crisis.

‘I had to listen sometimes to calls of abuse to my advisers, to my officials, based mainly on falsehoods, that somebody, somewhere had blocked a flight – no-one blocked a flight.

‘Fundamentally, as we have seen on the media, there are desperate, desperate people, and I was not prepared to push those people out of the way for that.

‘When people’s time is right, they were called forward, and that’s the right thing to do. But I hope he (Farthing) comes back, he was advised to come back, his wife came back last Friday, so I hope he does as well.’

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