Women at Afghanistan dog charity in grave danger as Taliban move in next door

The staff at the Afghanistan dog charity, Nowzad, cannot escape without UK intervention

Women at Afghanistan dog charity in grave danger as Taliban move in next door
(Image credit: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images))

An American woman is on a mission to rescue staff and residents from a veterinary clinic in Afghanistan, following the Taliban’s takeover of the country last week. 

Cathy Kangas, the Global Ambassador for Nowzad Dog Shelter, is currently campaigning to secure the swift evacuation of its staff and animals from the country's capital. The facility, which employs over 70 UK and Afghan workers, has been a sanctuary for neglected dogs and cats in Kabul since it was established back in 2007 by former British marine, Pen Farthing. 

However, over the past few days, Nowzad has felt anything but peaceful. As the Taliban sweep the Afghan capital, the shelter—with its team of young male and female staff (one of whom is 34 weeks pregnant)—has become a prime target for the Islamic fundamentalist group. Scared and shocked, the group is currently holed up in Kabul while they wait anxiously for UK intervention. 

If that wasn't terrifying enough, Farthing received news earlier this week that Taliban fighters had moved in next door to the facility. He now fears that, if the evacuation process doesn't move faster, the center's young women will be captured and used as sex slaves. 

While the ultimate goal is to rescue both Nowzad's employees and animals, its supporters' first priority is to protect its staff. However, with the presence of the Taliban intensifying and escape routes narrowing, hopes for the group's future are waning. Kabul Airport has seen at least 12 fatalities since the militant organization invaded the city at the weekend, as people desperately clamor to flee the fallen nation and seek refuge elsewhere. 

"The more time that passes, the harder this is becoming," Kangas told woman&home. The animal rights activist and CEO of Prai Beautywent on to explain the primary obstacles facing the team right now, and what needs to be done to ensure their safety. 

"Farthing's team needs urgent temporary visas to help give them this access, however with the crowds and stampedes outside the airport, the road access is also adding another major challenge," she said. 

When Farthing's wife and the pregnant staff member tried to enter the chaotic airport via its North Gate, they were caught in a rush of panicked people and forced to retreat. Having missed their flight, they are now staying at a safe house in Kabul, where they are "distraught, upset, and frightened."  

Over £200,000 has been raised for a cargo ship to transport the animals safely out of Afghanistan and a veterinary clinic in York has already vowed to employ Nowzad's staff. However, the UK government has been painfully slow to take action on providing a secure escape route for the staff and their animals. Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged Farthing's predicament in the House of Commons on Wednesday but failed to guarantee any practical help to the ex-marine and his employees. 

"They owe it to him, after his years of service for his country in Afghanistan, and they owe it to his team to repair this mess," said Kangas. "He will not flee without them." 

It is now critical that the UK government step up and take immediate action to evacuate Nowzad's team. "This can’t be ignored any longer," Kangas added. They need to commit to giving his team a new life in the UK." 

To help support Kangas's cause, please tweet and post about Pen and Nowzad to Government officials. You can also donate to the fund page to help fund their rescue to the UK; https://www.nowzad.com/donate.

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.