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4th Jul, 2022

Afghan-born resident is 'insulted' by PM's alleged authorisation of controversial animal evacuation

A ‘SHOCKED’ Afghanistan-born Whitnash resident has hit out at allegations that the Prime Minister prioritised a controversial evacuation of some 70 animals over people desperate to flee Afghanistan.

Shabnam Nishat, whose mother is being hunted after Taliban Islamists stormed back to power after the UK and US military withdrawal last year, said she was shocked by the accusations – one of many mounting up against Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

She said: “It seems for the British government that animals are valued more highly than humans.

“My family’s situation is deteriorating every day. I fear the Taliban will soon find my mother. I know a hundred women have been arrested by the Taliban in my home province.

“My family is in danger. But I live in a safe country. I cannot do anything to help them. It’s very painful for me. And there are thousands of others in my situation.

“It is just another insulting kick in the stomach to know, for Boris Johnson, these animals are more valuable to him than my family’s lives.

“Please have mercy and prioritise the people left behind – not the animals. Help them. Please.”

The allegations arose following a leaked email which suggested a direct instruction had come from Mr Johnson to authorise the evacuation of animals, cared for by the Nowzad charity – something he denies.

The organisation, run by British former marine Pen Farthing, operates an animal clinic, dog and cat shelter and donkey sanctuary in Kabul, training and employing Afghans.

When the Taliban took control, its supporters launched an evacuation campaign for staff believed to be in danger due to links with foreign organisations, with the animals also at risk.

Some 15,000 people were airlifted out of the country in summer along with Mr Farthing. Around 150 animals were evacuated via a plane funded by donations.

The UK government sponsored clearance for the plane, which led to allegations Mr Johnson had personally authorised the move.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has also spoken out over the claims.

Mr Western said: “I was astonished to hear reports that Boris Johnson had arranged for the evacuation of Pen Farthing’s animals before the courageous Afghan interpreters who assisted our troops for nearly 20 years.

“And not just them, but the brave female judges, university students, the thousands facing persecution from the Taliban and the millions set to suffer as a humanitarian crisis develops in Afghanistan.

“He also overlooked inspiring women like Shabnam’s mother who served as politicians, opposed the Taliban and worked with the UN and international charities – occupying roles inconsistent with the Taliban’s ultra-conservative ideology.

“Yet another unforgivable decision from our Prime Minister.”

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