Former Marine Pen Farthing and Nowzad charity founder is now in "total relief" as his staff make it to the UK (Picture: Alamy).
Afghanistan

Pen Farthing tells of relief as Nowzad staff settle into new lives in UK

The former Royal Marine and Afghan animal charity founder expresses relief as his Nowzad staff settle in the UK.

Former Marine Pen Farthing and Nowzad charity founder is now in "total relief" as his staff make it to the UK (Picture: Alamy).

Former Royal Marine Paul 'Pen' Farthing has spoken of his relief after dozens of the staff from his animal shelter in Afghanistan have successfully been flown to the UK.

Last month he spoke about being "so happy" that his charity staff had reached Pakistan.

Now Pen Farthing has said workers from the Nowzad charity and their families have successfully been flying into Britain from Islamabad, Pakistan, after leaving Kabul on 11 September.

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The former Royal Marine set up the Nowzad animal rescue charity in the country after serving there, and he had vowed not to leave from Kabul airport unless his Afghan staff and all his animals could leave with him.

After sorting out their British visas and taking PCR tests, the Afghan nationals have flown over in groups with their families before being placed in quarantine hotels across the country.

A total of 50 have moved so far and 17 are still in Islamabad being processed.

Mr Farthing told the PA news agency: "It's a total relief to be honest, knowing that they're safe now in England or on their way to England and starting new lives with all the opportunities for them.

"We've got a shortage of veterinarians here in the UK so having these passionate people to add to the team is only going to help us all.

"I'm looking forward to the day when they're going to get out of quarantine and then I actually get to see them in person.

"That's going to be absolutely amazing."

In a tweet alongside an image of a group of Nowzad staff landing in the UK, Mr Farthing said: "Made me cry if honest seeing this photo. 

"We should all be so proud of this!"

Some staff will now retrain to qualify as vets in the UK while others will get different jobs and study English to improve their language skills.

A total of 94 dogs and 68 cats were rescued from Afghanistan after Nowzad launched its Operation Ark campaign.

A branch of Nowzad still remains in Kabul but now solely operates as a donkey rescue centre and is being run by Nowzad staff who did not want to leave Afghanistan.

Watch: Ex-Royal Marine refused to leave the country and abandon his charity staff.

Reflecting on the difficulties over the last few months, Mr Farthing said he would not change how he and his staff handled the evacuation of the animals and workers from Kabul.

In August, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said supporters of Mr Farthing had "taken up too much time" in the Kabul evacuation effort.

Mr Farthing said: "From our side of things, we dealt with the cards that we were dealt with and we had to make plans based on the information we had and the situation as it was evolving.

"Definitely the American government and the British Government could have planned this withdrawal a lot better and in a different way, without a shadow of a doubt.

"Recently I've seen that the British representative to Afghanistan has just met with the Taliban, their leadership, in Kabul. That's only a month after the withdrawal.

"We have to ask, why did they put everybody through that?

"We could have had a completely different outcome to this. I think they put the emphasis on the fact it was an emergency evacuation and so everybody had to go with it," he added.

"There's not a lot we could have done any differently."

The Foreign Office and the Pentagon have been contacted for comment.