Ex-Royal Marine who set up animal charity in Afghanistan hits out at withdrawal

A FORMER Royal Marine who set up a charity to reunite soldiers with animals they bond with on the front line has condemned the withdrawal of allied forces from Afghanistan.

Afghanistan ‘feels betrayed’ by UK withdrawal says Stewart

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Pen Farthing founded Nowzad after befriending a stray dog while serving in Helmand province in 2006 and the charity now has a shelter and veterinary clinic in Kabul. But the ex-Royal Marine has said he is “absolutely terrified for what the future is going to hold” as the Taliban sweeps across Afghanistan.

Mr Farthing, who completed tours of Afghanistan and Iraq during his military career, criticised the withdrawal of foreign forces from the conflict-hit country.

He told Express.co.uk: “As a Royal Marine Commando I lost two of my young guys there. I would like somebody truly to point out to me and to the families of those who lost sons, daughters, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters – why?

“Because all we did back then was remove the Taliban from power and all we’ve just done is give the Taliban the power back. So what was the point in the last 20 years?

“We might as well have just not bothered being here and not given anybody hope, aspirations for the future, because we’ve just ripped it from them.

Pen Farthing

Pen Farthing founded Nowzad after befriending a stray dog while serving in Helmand province in 2006 (Image: PEN FARTHING)

Pen Farthing

The ex-Royal Marine criticised the withdrawal of foreign forces from the conflict-hit country (Image: NOWZAD)

“I just never thought I’d see this day and I’m truly ashamed.”

The situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated following the decision to pull out US troops, a move followed by allies including the UK.

Taliban insurgents continue to rapidly advance through the country as thousands of refugees flee to Kabul.

Mr Farthing, who is in the capital, said: “To see that happening is just mind-blowing. I thought I’d seen a few things as a Marine but I now can safely say I think I’ve seen it all.”

READ MORE: Troops sent to evacuate Britons as Taliban advances on Kabul

Nowzad

Dr Hamida is one of 24 Afghan nationals working at Nowzad’s centre in Kabul (Image: NOWZAD)

The ex-Royal Marine has 24 Afghan nationals, including women, working at his animal welfare charity’s centre in Kabul.

He said: “I’m a British citizen and I can come home, but my female staff have got absolutely nowhere to go.

“The stories of what’s going to happen to them under Taliban rule, I just can’t comprehend it. It’s devastating to think about. I’m terrified for them.”

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Pen Farthing

Nowzad has a shelter and veterinary clinic in Kabul (Image: NOWZAD)

Nowzad

The charity works to relieve the suffering of animals in Afghanistan (Image: NOWZAD)

Mr Farthing is also facing the heartbreaking prospect of putting all the animals at Nowzad’s shelter to sleep if they are unable to relocate them.

The centre currently has 140 dogs, 60 cats, 12 donkeys, two horses, a goat and a bull in its care.

The former Royal Marine said: “We know from prior experience the Taliban don’t have much thought for human life, let alone animal welfare.

“And the fact that we employ women to actually support that animal welfare.

“We’re desperately worried and concerned and I think probably now a very real sinking realisation that we may well have to just put all our animals to sleep because that’ll be the kindest thing to do.”

Mr Farthing added that it would “break all of our hearts”.

Nowzad has reunited more than 1,600 soldiers with stray dogs and cats they have rescued on the front line since it was founded.

Harry Byrne

Harry Byrne

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