A former member of the British Royal Marines who carried out a major expedition to leave Afghanistan with nearly 200 rescued dogs and cats traveled to safety with the animals, but without the Afghan staff from his charity, who remain in Kabul.
A privately funded charter plane carrying Paul “Bean” Farthing and his animals landed at London’s Heathrow Airport on Sunday after a flight that shocked and divided Britain, raising thorny questions about the relative value of human and animal lives for women.
Ian McGill, a veterinarian who took part in the campaign, said the animals appeared to be doing well and had been isolated.
Farthing, who founded the charity Nawzad after serving in British forces in Afghanistan 15 years ago, was able to join the British Army’s air evacuation along with his Afghan staff and dependents. However, he refused to leave the country without the animals.
For days, Farthing used social media and media interviews to recount his attempts to leave the country with his four companions amid a chaotic mass exodus from Kabul airport, while his supporters pressed the British government to assist in a rescue effort called “Operation Ship”. ”
Farthing has earned the endorsement of celebrities, including comedian Ricky Gervais, and several offers to adopt rescued animals. But it has also received criticism from those who said the campaign is taking time and energy from efforts to rescue vulnerable Afghans from the Taliban who have taken control of the country.
Britain said it had evacuated more than 15,000 vulnerable Britons and Afghans in a two-week air evacuation that ended on Saturday. However, authorities said that as many as 1,100 Afghans who were eligible to travel to the UK were left behind. Some British lawmakers who have tried to help stranded people and their families believe the total is much higher.
MP Tom Tugendhat, who was serving in the British Army in Afghanistan, asked, “What would they say if I sent an ambulance to save my dog instead of saving his mother?”
We used a lot of soldiers to bring in 200 dogs. In the meantime, my family’s translator will likely be killed,” Tugendhat told LBC radio on Saturday.
Farthing and his supporters argued that “Operation Astronomy” did not take people or resources from the official evacuation. But British government officials are increasingly expressing frustration.
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