Former Royal Marine Paul “Pen” Farthing, who campaigned to evacuate animals from his Kabul shelter, arrived in the United Kingdom with nearly 170 dogs and cats, but without his staff.
Farthing landed at London’s Heathrow Airport on a privately-funded charter flight with “partial success” of his campaign called Operation Ark on Aug. 29.
Farthing confirmed to BBC that he left Taliban-controlled Afghanistan with his shelter animals but without his 24 staff and their dependents.
Farthing said on Twitter that he had “mixed emotions and true deep feeling of sadness for Afghan” after leaving Kabul.
Dominic Dyer, a friend and an animal welfare campaigner, said in a SkyNews report that Farthing was forced to travel back to the UK without his staff after being told it was not possible to find people to fill the seats of the plane.
Dyer added that the staff were “still in their homes” and that efforts would be made to try to evacuate them from the war-torn country.
Dr. Iaian McGill, a veterinarian on board the flight, confirmed to BBC that the plane carried 90 to 100 dogs and 60 to 70 cats.
Farthing’s campaign sparked mixed reactions in the UK and heated exchanges with Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and his adviser Peter Quentin.
Farthing set up his animal welfare charity Nowzad in Kabul after serving in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s.
The last British flight left Afghanistan on Aug. 28, ending the UK’s 20-year involvement in the country.
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