Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing, a British former Royal Marine who runs an animal shelter in Kabul, Afghanistan, says he was denied entry to the airport due to a change in paperwork rules. The 52-year-old blamed US President Joe Biden, saying he “went through hell” to reach the airport and was turned away as the US government had changed paperwork rules just two hours earlier. The ex-Royal Marine was caught up in the deadly explosions outside Kabul airport in which dozens of people were killed on Thursday evening.
Pen Farthing launched a widely-covered campaign earlier this month to evacuate his shelter’s 200 animals, along with his staff and their families, out of Kabul. He chartered a $500,000 plane to land at Kabul airport for the rescue operation, which has now come to be known as Operation Ark, reports TheExpress.
Mr Farthing took to Twitter this morning to say that he and his whole team, along with the animals, were safely inside the airport perimeter when he was told that Biden had “changed policy” on who could leave. He said they were “turned away into the chaos of those devastating explosions.”
When questioned as to why he was not escorted by the British government, Mr Farthing said that the US controlled the Kabul airport internally, so their rules “trumped” the British paperwork he carried.
Mr Farthing, who founded the charity Nowzad, had previously told the BBC that “all hell broke loose” at the airport in the aftermath of the attack in which dozens of people, including 13 US soldiers, were killed last evening.
“It was just the most horrific thing,” he said.
“There’s nothing I can do. The staff are telling me it’s time for me to go. They don’t think a foreigner will be welcome here,” he said.
“Staff have asked me to take as many dogs and cats as I can. But now I can’t get them past the Taliban check points.
“My mission to get them out of Afghanistan has just ended because Joe Biden stopped it.”
The privately-funded plane that Mr Farthing had chartered for his evacuation was cancelled amid safety concerns. Another aircraft which was to be used instead was reportedly told that it could not land in Kabul until he was granted entry to the airport.