UK government urged to support charities in Afghanistan

Charity boss warns staff are in danger under Taliban rule

Nowzad logo
Nowzad logo

The UK government is being urged to increase support for civil society in Afghanistan as one animal charity fears its 71 staff “are not safe” since the Taliban took control of the country.

Paul Farthing, the founder of animal rescue charity Nowzad, which is registered in both the UK and United States, has called on the government to help his employees leave the country.

The international development umbrella body Bond has also urged the goverment to help charities and aid organisations continue to support those trapped inside Afghanistan.

Farthing, a former Royal Marine, started the charity after he adopted a stray dog in Helmand Province during a tour of duty in 2006. 

The organisation treats sick animals in Afghanistan as well as organising for cats and dogs to find new homes elsewhere.

Farthing pledged that the charity would help staff to retrain so that they will not be a “burden on the British taxpayer” if they were helped to relocate to the UK.

In a video update posted on the charity's website today, Farthing said that the Taliban had moved into the building next door, but “they haven’t come to see us yet”.

He said: “For us here at Nowzad, we're coming to the end game. I cannot leave until my staff have left Afghanistan. They are not safe here."

He described attempts to leave the country via Kabul airport as “chaos” and “an absolute nightmare”.

Farthing also urged supporters to lobby the government to help get his team out of the country. 

He said he did not want his staff to pay the price “for mistakes we as the West have made in this country” as they have “done nothing wrong”.

The charity has also launched a £200,000 fundraising appeal, called Operation Ark, so that it can charter a plane to help fly some staff and animals out of the country.

Its total income up to 31 March 2020 was £960,000 and its total spending was just over £750,000. 

The umbrella body, Bond, has called on the government to use its diplomatic levers to allow humanitarian organisations and their partners to continue to deliver assistance to people safely, and support people wanting to leave Afghanistan.

Simon Starling, director of policy, advocacy and research at Bond, said that “a critical starting point” would be to reverse the recent aid cuts to the Afghan people and putting an end to any forced removals to Afghanistan and a review of any refused asylum claims.

Starling added: "We urge the government to not abandon the people of Afghanistan, many of whom have worked alongside UK nationals in the country for decades and have put their lives at risk to help make their nation a more peaceful place.”

His concerns and calls for support were also echoed by Afghanaid and the British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group.

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