Animal Shelter Convoy Led by Former UK Marine ‘Stuck’ at Kabul Airport

By Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Freelance Reporter
Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.
August 26, 2021 Updated: August 26, 2021

The former Royal Marine who is trying to get some 68 people and 200 animals out of Kabul says he is “stuck” with his convoy outside the airport, where he has arranged for a charter plane.

Paul Farthing, also known as Pen, runs an animal shelter in Kabul. After the fall of Kabul, he refused to leave without his staff and their families, and without his cats and dogs.

After obtaining authorisation for his people, Farthing arranged for a charter plane that could take animals in the hold. After a war of words—played out in the media—with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, he was given the green light for his charter plane.

Farthing now appears to be stuck outside the airport, just hours after U.S. and UK authorities warned people not travel there due to an “imminent” threat of a terrorist attack from a local ISIS spin-off group.

The UK government said that it was making efforts to get Farthing’s people and animals inside the airport, but were hampered by the need to carry out security checks.

Farthing revealed the plight of his convoy in a Twitter post on Aug. 26 as he appealed for help from Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban’s spokesman.

“Dear Sir, my team and my animals are stuck at airport circle,” wrote Farthing. “We have a flight waiting. Can you please facilitate safe passage into the airport for our convoy? We are an NGO who will come back to Afghanistan but right now I want to get everyone out safely,” he wrote.

“We have been here for 10 hours after being assured that we would have safe passage. Truly would like to go home now. Let’s prove the IEA [Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan] are taking a different path.”

About an hour later, Iain McGill, who supports Farthing’s shelter from the UK, wrote on Twitter: “Pen at South Gate surrounded by Taliban. Can’t get through as Airport not opening from USA/UK side. Taliban will let him pass, US and UK leaving him exposed and stranded.”

McGill, who has been highly critical of the UK government’s handling of assistance to Farthing, added, “Ben Wallace, act now or cause all their deaths.”

The flight, from a Polish operator, is due to land on Friday, Aug. 28.

Armed forces minister James Heappey told “Good Morning Britain” that efforts were being made to allow Pen’s convoy inside the airport and that the charter plane would be permitted to land.

He said that the bottleneck in getting Farthing’s convoy into the airport is not capacity on planes, but vital security checks.

“That is causing the queue,” he said. “There is also a highly credible threat in place causing us to advise people against going to the airport.”

As a British passport holder, Farthing can be processed faster, said Heappey. But for the Afghans and their families from the shelter, further security checks are required. If their security checks are sped up for them, he said, it would mean pushing other Afghans in the same position back down the queue.

Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Freelance Reporter
Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.