Animal Airlift: Escaping the Taliban on Channel 4, Monday 29th August 2022 at 10:00pm
Don’t Miss: Animal Airlift: Escaping the Taliban on Channel 4, Monday 29th August 2022 at 10:00pm
In August 2021, there was chaos and terror in Afghanistan as people tried to flee the country as the West withdrew from it.
In the middle of all the chaos, Pen Farthing was desperately trying to get his staff and animals out of the country. The programme describes how the Taliban took control and how people were scrambling to get out, and how chaotic and desperate the situation was.
The programme looks back at the withdrawal. There’s exclusive access to those behind the evacuation and footage from their personal archives. The team worked 24/7 to try to get the animals out, and although the public was at first in favour, the tide seemed to turn against Pen who was accused of putting “pets before people”. The programme looks at how that change happened. It also shows the preparations to get out and the battle to go, how the animals were loaded up, the journey to the airport under Taliban escort, and the efforts to keep the animals watered and cool; how the Taliban commander at the airport wouldn't let the Afghan staff go, and then the suicide bombs going off and the ensuring chaos. They had to turn round and drive out into the chaos of the explosions with tear gas everywhere.
The next morning they tried again, with the plan that Pen should go with the cats and dogs, and the staff get out through Pakistan. The American servicemen watiting for their flights out helped Pen to load the 68 cats and 94 dogs on to get them out. 236 seats were empty on that flight, 236 people could have got out on the aircraft which took the cats and dogs. But the cabin was empty. The dogs and cats were in the hold of the aircraft.
Towards the end of the programme, there is coverage of the politics of it all.
The aircraft left with 236 empty seats, which people could have taken to get out of Afghanistan.
Two weeks later, the staff left Kabul to go to Pakistan. After 5 days they crossed the border. And the staff and their families have now got to the UK. Some staff stayed in Afghanistan and today Nowzad is still operating there. It is also supporting animal shelters in Ukraine and the staff who stayed behind to care for them.
Visit Nowzad’s website to find out more and see how you can help
The programme aside, please let’s not forget the Kabul Small Animal Rescue who were also desperately trying to get their animals out of Kabul (and succeeded with nearly 290 flying out to Canada via Istanbul and Iceland, landing in Canada on 1st February 2022) and who are still there, operating trying to help animals.
There’s also the Kabul Zoo where it is believed that the animals are okay and that the staff are there caring for them.
A HUGE THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO WORKED IN THE MOST DIFFICULT, DANGEROUS CIRCUMSTANCES TO LOOK AFTER THE ANIMALS AND GET THEM OUT. PLEASE, TO THOSE OF WHO YOU WORK IN AFGHANISTAN HELPING ANIMALS, PLEASE KEEP SAFE. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU'RE DOING, AND BLESS YOU.