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Posted: 13th September 2021

Nowzad animal rescue team evacuated from Afghanistan
Nowzad's team of 67 staff and their families have been safely evacuated from Afghanistan.
Pen Farthing expresses joy following weeks of uncertainty. 

All 67 Nowzad staff and their families have been safely evacuated from Afghanistan and are being processed for their onward flight to the UK.

Confirming the news via Facebook on Saturday (11 September), Nowzad founder Paul (Pen) Farthing expressed joy that his team members had now left the country and are currently in Islamabad.

“The Nowzad Crisis response team worked so hard to get our staff -  independently of the British Government - to the border and then across it, and we’ve now handed them over to the British High Commission in Islamabad. It’s been a long 36 hours. The team has been awake and following the progress. It’s just been absolutely...just...wow!”

The Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan last month led to a mass evacuation of Afghans and foreigners amid fears over a return to a strict interpretation of Islamic law. Despite this, Mr Farthing pledged to remain in the country and vowed not to leave until his team of charity workers and rescue animals could also make it to safety.

The ex-Royal marine set up a campaign dubbed Operation Ark that managed to raise a staggering £365,000 for a privately-chartered flight to rescue the team. But while the British Government granted visas for his staff and their families, only he and his 170 cats and dogs managed to leave. It was reported that the Taliban prevented the Nowzad team from travelling with him.

In a previous statement, the charity said: "We are relieved to confirm that Pen and the Nowzad animals left Afghanistan and are now safe.

"However, we still have much to do as our wonderful team in Kabul were not allowed through the final barrier. It was a devastating blow to us. We are now working extremely hard to get them evacuated and will not rest until they too are safe."

"Our thoughts for now are with our staff and the many people and animals who have also been left behind. We will do our utmost to help them."

Foreign secretary Dominic Rabb expressed his delight on Twitter that Nowzad’s Afghan staff had now safely crossed the border into Pakistan. He added that they are being assisted by the British High Commission “and we look forward to welcoming them to the UK in the coming days.”

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