Animal charity staff stuck outside Kabul airport

A former Royal Marine who runs an animal charity in Afghanistan says he, his Afghan staff and dozens of dogs and cats are stuck outside Kabul’s airport as they try to get a flight out of the country.

Paul “Pen” Farthing appealed to the Taliban to allow the group safe passage into the airport. He tweeted to Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen that “we have been here for 10 hours after being assured that we would have safe passage. Truly would like to go home now.”

Farthing has been pressing for days to get staff of his Nowzad charity out of Afghanistan, along with the group’s rescued animals.

Dominic Dyer, a British animal campaigner who is assisting Farthing, said a plane had been chartered and was due to leave the U.K. later Thursday for Kabul.

Farthing’s supporters have clashed with Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who refused to airlift the animals on a Royal Air Force plane. saying “I have to prioritize people at the moment over pets.”

The U.K. defense ministry later said it would help Farthing, his group and the animals leave on the privately funded chartered jet.

Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said Thursday that U.K. forces at the airport would “facilitate” the flight. He told ITV that “the difficulty is getting Pen into the airfield.” (AP)

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