Afghanistan: Anger as car airlifted out of Kabul amid evacuation operation

Images surface online amid fears some will be left behind in Kabul

Matt Mathers
Tuesday 24 August 2021 17:13
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<p>Footage shows car onboard military aircraft </p>

Footage shows car onboard military aircraft

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UK military officials have been accused of wasting space on evacuation planes after a car was pictured being airlifted out of Afghanistan.

Broadcast footage shows a Toyota car onboard a British aircraft surrounded by troops and evacuees as they prepare to take off from Kabul airport.

The images were broadcast amid fears the US will not extend its 31 August deadline for ending the evacuation in Kabul, increasing the risk that some people are left behind.

Britain is unlikely to retain a presence in Afghanistan once the US has left.

Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, earlier insisted he would prioritise the evacuation of people over pets and animals, following claims that the extraction of an animal charity was blocked.

Paul Farthing, a former Royal Marine, founded the Nowzad animal shelter in Kabul rescuing dogs, cats and donkeys after serving with the British army in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s.

Since Kabul fell to the Taliban earlier this month Mr Farthing, known as "Pen", has been campaigning for all of his staff and their families, as well as his 140 dogs and 60 cats, to be evacuated from the country in a plan he has dubbed "Operation Ark".

On Monday morning, a jubilant Mr Farthing announced the UK government had granted visas for all of his staff and their dependents - but later it was suggested that a plane chartered to fly them out was blocked by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

However, Mr Wallace said it would still be possible for Mr Farthing, a British passport holder, to leave Kabul. He was called forward on Friday, Mr Wallace added.

Responding to the footage of the car being airlifted out of the airport, Mr Farthing expressed disbelief and shock.

He wrote on Twitter: "You rescued a car??? WTF".

Dominic Dyer, a wildlife campaigner and close friend of Mr Farthing, said he had “no words” to explain his anger at images showing a car being airlifted out of the Afghanistan capital.

An MoD spokesperson said: “We are aware of reports around vehicles being loaded onto flights leaving Afghanistan.

“Cleared passengers are always loaded as an absolute priority and any spare capacity is used for operational freight. No flight has left Kabul empty.”

Britain has so far evacuated more than 8,000 people from Afghanistan in the past 10 days, including more than 2,000 in the previous 24 hours, according to Mr Wallace.

The figures include people departing the Afghan capital in nine military flights over a 24-hour period. Embassy staff, British nationals, those eligible under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap) programme and a number of nationals from partner nations were included in the evacuation figure.

So far, 5,171 of the total have made claims under Arap. More than 1,000 UK armed forces personnel have been deployed in Kabul.

But there are growing concerns that not everyone that the UK has made a pledge to will be able to escape Kabul as they desperately attempt to flee the new regime before the 31 August deadline.

Mr Wallace said the Kabul evacuation effort is "down to hours now, not weeks" as he conceded Britain's involvement will end when the US leaves Afghanistan.

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