Good Morning Britain presenters Sean Fletcher and Charlotte Hawkins interviewed Britsih Royal Marine veteran Paul “Pen” Farthing and his wife Kaisa after both escaped the crisis in Afghanistan
Paul “Pen” Farthing has detailed his “heartbreaking” experience as he tried to flee Afghanistan with animals and shelter staff.
Sean Fletcher and Charlotte Hawkins spoke with the British Royal Marine veteran after he successfully evacuated himself and cats and dogs from his Nowzad animal shelter in Kabul, Afghanistan at the weekend.
However, there has been some controversy on how the animals made it out of the crisis-stricken country but not staff members from Nowzad.
Firstly, Sean and Charlotte spoke with Pen’s wife Kaisa Farthing in Oslo, Norway as she detailed how she had made her own tearful departure from Afghanistan as she felt pained to leave so many people behind.
She spoke of her relief at Pen leaving the country and also noted that she could make more of a difference from outside of Afghanistan now.
Pen then joined them on the call from his isolation in Oslo and began to speak of his “mixed emotions” about leaving the country with animals but not without some of the shelter’s staff members due to paperwork changes “two hours before”, describing that as “heartbreaking” with people being “turned around at gunpoint by the Taliban”.
He said everyone at the shelter was “crying” and “in shock” that their departure had been stalled and had encouraged him to leave alone with the animals, while they pursued other avenues to leave the country.
The Royal Marine veteran also noted that if he had stayed now he also would be putting his staff in more danger.
He continued: “While the British government had given them the correct paperwork because the Americans had controlled the airport, Joe Biden had changed the airport on who could actually enter, it overruled the paperwork we had been given by the British.”
Pen confirmed that there had been “several empty seats” on the flight but he was unable to get his Afghan colleagues at the animal shelter to join him.
Pen confirmed that “they had enough capacity for all the people who needed to get out” but he was “the last person to enter that airport” as the British and Americans “stopped taking people in”.
However, Sean and Charlotte discussed with Pen the criticism of his evacuating the animals with some arguing he had prioritised them over people in his home.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had also bemoaned that Farthing’s supporters had “taken up too much time” of senior commanders dealing with the humanitarian crisis.
“I’m getting sick to death of explaining this,” said Pen, explaining that his colleagues were prevented from leaving the airport due to paperwork issues and no such prioritising of animals over humans occurred.
He noted: “The animals went into the cargo hold, people cannot go in there.”
Pen also dismissed criticisms that the British government worked with him to evacuate animals over people from the shelter.
“Nobody in the British government facilitated my entry into the British airport,” repeated Pen multiple times. “I did that with the Taliban.”
He argued: “Whoever is making any accusations or any comments needs to have been stood there on the ground” to understand the situation.
“There were no British troops facilitating my entry into that airfield,” said Pen of what happened.
Sean asked if there was a “campaign to make him look bad”, but Pen noted people were left behind due to the US deciding to pull out of Afghanistan.
“I could not get them into that airport,” said Pen Farthing about his staff.
He added about his critics: “They don’t understand that situation on the ground.”
Pen went on: “I’m upset that people were left behind, but I couldn’t do anything different. There was nothing we could do.”
The Royal Marine veteran also apologised for his viral sweary message left for a government employee but made clear his frustration during the situation.
“It was my lowest point, I had no other option, I had nothing else to do,” said Pen, who also advised that the government review the security behind their messages as it found its way online.
*Good Morning Britain airs on weekday mornings from 6am to 9am on ITV with past episodes on ITV Hub.
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