Ricky Gervais has spoken out against critics of the Operation Ark campaign to save animals from Afghanistan.
Since the Taliban reclaimed control of Afghanistan earlier this month, Paul “Pen” Farthing has launched a fundraiser titled Operation Ark to transport staff and 200 animals (140 dogs, 60 cats) from his animal rescue organisation, Nowzad, in Kabul out of the country to the UK in a private plane.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has stated that, while Farthing and his workforce have been offered places on an airplane, he won’t be prioritising animals “over the men, women and children we see in desperate need of the gate”.
Vocal animal rights supporter Gervais has since tweeted in support of Farthing, writing: “Urgent: @PenFarthing is brave and kind. Such honour should be rewarded. He’s still trying to save others in the face of grave danger. He shouldn’t be left behind. And they rescued a fucking car? Shame. #OperationArk.”
Urgent: @PenFarthing is brave and kind. Such honour should be rewarded. He's still trying to save others in the face of grave danger. He shouldn't be left behind. And they rescued a fucking car? Shame. #OperationArk
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) August 24, 2021
I know.. right? The cargo hold is empty – we put the dogs and cats in there!! And 250 people above in the cabin! https://t.co/zAKqazlDZG
— Pen Farthing (@PenFarthing) August 24, 2021
In a follow-up tweet, Gervais added: “Dear stupid cunts saying we shouldn’t put animals before people. 1. The animals go in the hold where people can’t go. 2. This is an extra, privately funded plane that will allow MORE people to be saved. #OperationArk.”
The UK government has granted visas for all Farthing’s staff and their dependants, but he’s yet to receive approval from the Foreign Office which would allow them to travel, according to The Evening Standard.
In a recent interview with Sky News, Farthing stated he’s also received “no confirmation” of the visas.
“He absolutely knows Mr. Wallace that I said I’m not leaving here without my staff,” Farthing said. “So I’m not going to go to the airport and go on an airplane so his problem goes away, that’s not going to happen.”
Speaking on Tuesday (August 24) about Farthing’s situation, Wallace said: “[Farthing] could get through the gates as a British passport holder. He was called forward on Friday and I recommend he takes that.
“His workforce have been offered, as entitled personnel, places and they will be able to be called forward, but I can’t guarantee in this window they will be processed onto aircraft, all I can say is they qualify.
“As for the animals that he was rescuing… it is just not going to be the case that I will prioritise them over the men, women and children we see in desperate need at the gate.”
The total number of deaths around Kabul airport has reached at least 20 since the Taliban seized control of the city on Sunday (August 15).