BoJo Accused of Intervening to Order Animal Charity Evacuation From Afghanistan
14:11 GMT 21.03.2022 (Updated: 15:18 GMT 28.05.2023)
The British prime minister has repeatedly rejected allegations that he assisted the approval of the animal charity's evacuation of cats and dogs from Kabul last year as thousands of people trying to flee the Taliban* were left behind.
A second whistleblower has claimed that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
ordered the controversial airlift of the animal rescue charity Nowzad in Afghanistan in August 2021, adding that top officials "must have" deliberately lied about the matter. Downing Street has not commented on the issue yet.
In evidence published by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Josie Stewart, head of Illicit Finance in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), said that she had decided to speak out after being put in "an impossible situation" in which her "conscience could not tolerate what FCDO required of" her.
Stewart argued that "it was widespread 'knowledge' in the FCDO Crisis Centre that the decision on Nowzad's Afghan staff came from the prime minister".
"I saw messages to this effect on Microsoft Teams, I heard it discussed in the Crisis Centre including by senior civil servants. And I was copied on numerous emails which clearly suggested this and which no one, including Nigel Casey acting as 'Crisis Gold', challenged", she claimed.
Stewart suggested that her actions "are likely to result in" her dismissal from FCDO, adding, "I loved my job. I loved working with my regular team and department, and am devastated to be leaving them".
Her remarks follow evidence given in December 20201 by Raphael Marshall, who also worked for the FCDO and who argued that the UK government left British nationals and Afghan allies at the mercy of the Taliban during the chaotic exit from Afghanistan
in August of last year. According to him, at one point Downing Street prioritised the evacuation of animals over people.
Slamming the way the UK prioritised evacuations as "arbitrary and dysfunctional", Marshall asserted that the Foreign Office "received an instruction" from Prime Minister Johnson to use "considerable capacity" to help evacuate animals from the charity Nowzad, which is run by former British Royal Marine Paul "Pen" Farthing.
The PM rejected the allegations as "total rhubarb", asserting that "the [UK] military always prioritised human beings and that was quite right". Farthing, for his part, said that he believes Johnson did not intervene to help him evacuate animals from Afghanistan, and that he had "absolutely no dealings with anybody in government" aside from Conservative MP Trudy Harrison.
London has repeatedly touted its evacuation efforts in Kabul as a success against the backdrop of Labour's criticism that the Conservative government was "asleep at the wheel" on the evacuation of Afghan assistants. In all, about 15,000 people were evacuated from Afghanistan by the UK in late August, according to a Whitehall spokesperson.
The Taliban entered Kabul on 15 August after a weeks-long offensive
, prompting the civilian government to collapse. The development has forced thousands of Afghans to seek a way to escape from the country for fear of reprisals by the militants.
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*Under UN sanctions for terrorist activities.