Nowzad – Operation Ark

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Well, what an amazing achievement. After surviving a suicide bomb attack, discussions with the local Taliban, a long wait in the street with cats & dogs and a few heated exchanges with government administrators, Operation Ark has landed. I think we could all hear the collective sigh of relief from those who had a hand in this rescue mission, as well as the thousands of people who showed their support for the operation.

Both the national and local new outlets as well as all the social media platforms have been documenting the twists and turns of the mission. What really kicked off Operation Ark was when Mr Farthing threw down the gauntlet by saying he would not leave Afghanistan without the Nowzad cats, dogs and staff. You can just imagine the reaction to that news! But after fighting for his, the staff and the animal’s safety for so long, the plane carrying Pen Farthing and the animals left Kabul airport just in time.

I can’t imagine the situation and pressure everyone involved in this must have been under. The timetable was extremely short, the relentless heat, constant looming threat of attacks which unfortunately turned into reality, tens of thousands of people trying to flee, all apparently with the correct paperwork to be checked, tight plane landing and take-off slots and on and on it goes, you get the gist of it.

In amongst all of this, there were comments of bullying behaviour, and few strongly worded comments thrown about which have been ceased upon between the government administrators and Nowzad. This was no easy feat! With tensions running extremely high, tired and exhausted people in a high stress situation, this was bound to happen.

But now, thankfully Mr Farthing and the rescue animals are all safe in the UK. After all that has been thrown at them, I think a BIG well done and most importantly a thank you is due to all that made Operation Ark possible.

As outlined below, it is fair to say the mission did not go without a few challenges.

From Sky News

But Mr Wallace criticised the former Royal Marine’s supporters for “bullying, falsehoods and threatening behaviour” towards MOD staff.

He told LBC: “I think it has taken up too much time of my senior commanders dealing with this issue when they should be focused on dealing with the humanitarian crisis.”
Mr Farthing claimed on social media how his team and rescue animals had managed to reach Kabul airport on Thursday, but were “turned away” due to changes in paperwork hours earlier.

“Went through hell to get there & we were turned away into the chaos of those devastating explosions,” Mr Farthing said on Twitter.

And on Saturday night it was reported that Mr Farthing had sent a heated message to Peter Quentin, a special adviser working for Mr Wallace, who he accused of “blocking” efforts to arrange a flight.

In a threatening and expletive-filled message, published in The Sunday Times, Mr Farthing is said to have told Mr Quentin he would “spend the rest of my time f*****g destroying you on social media and every other f*****g platform I can find”.

But Mr Wallace criticised the former Royal Marine’s supporters for “bullying, falsehoods and threatening behaviour” towards MOD staff.

The government tweeted: “Pen Farthing and his pets were assisted through the system at Kabul airport by the UK Armed Forces. They are currently being supported while he awaits transportation.

“On the direction of the Defence Secretary, clearance for their charter flight has been sponsored by the UK Government.”

Sources from the Ministry of Defence told Sky News Mr Farthing has had no preferential treatment and there has been no queue jump or U-turn.

They said: “The Defence Secretary always said we would facilitate a flight. If Pen had done this last Friday, then none of this would have happened.”

From BBC

Mr Wallace urged people to “let my civil servants and military get on with dealing with one of the most dangerous and challenging evacuations for a generation”.

“Now they’re on the side of the street trying to keep the dogs and cats from dying of heat exhaustion,” Mr Dyer said.

“I don’t need to hear from ministers anymore that we have a priority list.

“I don’t want to hear this ‘we’re putting pets before people’ – it’s nonsense.”

He said the animals would be “in the hold and we’ve got spare capacity in the seating and will take more refugees if we can”.

“This is a Dunkirk-spirit privately paid operation to rescue animals and protect people,” he added.

“It’s touch and go… but we’re going to get them out of there.”

From Twitter

So can people now please let my civil servants and military get on with dealing with one of the most dangerous and challenging evacuations for a generation. As professionals, they will do their best for all those eligible and with my full support.

From Independent

Although visas were granted for his 24 staff and their dependents, Mr Farthing refused to leave without the animals – of which there are up to 200 in total.

On Friday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that Mr Farthing, the cats, and the dogs have been taken into Hamid Karzai International Airport with the help of armed troops.

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