Edinburgh woman appeals for help to rescue animals and shelter workers trapped in Kabul
An Edinburgh woman is appealing for help to get an ex-Royal Marine commando and his animal shelter workers - and dogs and cats - flown out of Afghanistan.
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Paul “Pen” Farthing, who set up Nowzad shelter in Kabul when his unit was posted to war-torn Helmand province, has issued a desperate plea for help to fund a flight to get his workers back to the UK along with dozens of animals.
Karen Gladysz-Gryff , an animal lover who supports dog rescue charities with fundraising, has urged people to donate to the mercy mission and has also backed the veteran’s calls for people to write to their local MSP or MP.
With gunfire raging in the background Sgt Farthing posted a heart-wrenching video on Facebook featuring messages from his team who are trapped in Kabul as the Taliban close in near the remote compound.
It came amid scenes of chaos in the country as thousands of desperate Afghans scrambled to flee at Kabul airport, where eyewitnesses reported a number of dead bodies.
Former sergeant Farthing has a British passport but has refused to leave the 24 workers and their families, including the country’s first female vet, in the hands of the militants – who have previously disapproved of girls aged 10 and over going to school.
Civilian flights have stopped so their only hope is to charter a flight which costs £145,000. But time is running out – as military support could soon be withdrawn from the airport.
Named after the first dog he befriended ‘Nowzad’ shelter looks after over 140 dogs along with more than 40 cats, supported by a modern veterinary clinic which has trained 500 workers.
The charity’s legacy of animal welfare can be traced back to the very first rescue, Nowzad, a scarred stray who became the Farthing’s battle buddy after his unit broke up an illegal dog fight.
Farthing soon became a guardian for stray dogs that roamed lawless Helmand after his Unit Kilo Company of 42 Commando Royal Marines arrived in the town of 'Now Zad' in Helmand in November 2006.
Farthing, who has been trapped in Kabul since the Covid-19 pandemic hit said: “The Taliban is not far from here. There’s no tomorrow for the Afghan people now. I lost two young Marines in Helmand. What was it all for?
"I’m heartbroken. Millions will be forced under Taliban rule. The last 48 hours have been the most stressful and worrying of my life. The police have quit their posts. I have my UK passport but I won’t leave my team and their families.”
"I’m asking people to write to their MP and donate to help us charter a plane. We need to get my team and the animals out of here.”
Karen, an animal lover who raises money for dog rescue charities, said: “These people are in danger. Their faces have been seen on social media. The Taliban also have no respect for animals.
"I have written to Nicola Sturgeon to ask her to step in. She said she’d welcome Afghan people. These are people who we could welcome here. And people have said they have space for the animals. I’d ask anyone who can spare something to donate to help get them to safety here.”