An update including the CDC ban and US troops leaving Afghanistan

First things first…….Nowzad is NOT closing down!
Yes, we are facing unprecedented challenges at this time which are stretching us to the limit but we are determined that together with you; we will overcome these issues.

So at the moment we are facing four unique challenges.

  1. Afghanistan has just seen a 4500% increase in COVID positive cases as sadly only 1% of the Afghan population has been vaccinated so far. We are continuing our COVID policy here at the clinic for the foreseeable future.
  2. The UK is currently debating a law to prevent dogs with docked ears from being imported into the country; sadly, due to an increase in owners having this cruel and barbaric procedure carried out on their dogs purely for cosmetic purposes.
    However, a blanket ban would prevent rescue charities; like Nowzad; from importing a rescued dog with docked ears that had found its way to our shelter in Kabul.
    The dog that started this charity; Nowzad himself, had had his ears removed on the streets of Afghanistan long before I found him as he was readied for his time in an Afghan dog fighting ring. Thankfully you know the story, I rescued him from that life. But under this ban I would not have been able to give him a loving home in the UK.
    An innocent dog would have been punished through no fault of their own. We will now have to fight for an exemption to the ban for registered charities.
  3. The American Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has just announced a 12-month ban on importing dogs from 131 countries with a high rate of rabies.
    So as of now we have no choice but to stop all further adoptions to the US. The opportunity for a loving forever home in the US for one of our rescues has been taken away.
    Nowzad has always adhered to a strict rabies vaccination and blood testing protocol under the UK DEFRA Pet passport scheme. A standard that is currently so much higher that what is required for entry to the USA for a dog from Afghanistan. We take the issue of rabies extremely seriously. We will apply for exemption but I am not hopeful. You can read my response to be ban on CNN news channel here and watch Julie dog being handed in Memphis on her way to her forever home!

And finally number 4; With the US President Joe Biden, confirming that all US troops would leave Afghanistan by September 11th, we were not surprised at all when they sped up the time line with it looking as if they will be gone by the middle of July.
Sadly, along with the Americans, the coalition of other western troops including the British, have committed to leave as well.

The peace agreement signed between the former President, Mr Trump and the Taliban was nothing short of a ridiculous, just a one sided PR stunt.
The Afghan government was not included and the Taliban only increased their attacks against the Afghan security forces. Yet it was still signed.
On average there are over 100 attacks across almost every province of Afghanistan on a daily basis at the moment with no signs of it slowing.
Yet, most western governments push social media messages stating that the peace agreement with the Taliban is holding and they are on track to leave Afghanistan.
This is pure fantasy and being presented in my view, to justify a disgraceful political decision. The news only reports the large scale attacks. Not the everyday assaults and bomb blasts that the Afghan people are acutely aware of.

It is worth noting that as of today, there has yet to be any peace deal negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government; the Taliban have not even confirmed they would uphold the progress made towards women’s empowerment across Afghanistan, or even allow women to continue to be educated or seek employment. It was not a requirement for the US withdrawal.
Yet the US government along with others seem to think it is job done. As a Royal Marine who served in Afghanistan and lost two of my young Royal Marines in the fight to remove the Taliban from power, I believe I have every right to say it is definitely not job done.

Many NGOs, along with other international aid groups and the team here at Nowzad, feel beyond let down by the sudden departure. The Australian embassy without notice, suddenly closed their doors last week. This is the wrong message being sent out by the international community without doubt. All it is doing is empowering the Taliban whilst demoralising the Afghan communities. Quite honestly I am appalled by the western governments seemingly indifference to Afghanistan now.

US and coalition troops have not been on the ground (patrolling) in Afghanistan (except for special operations troops in the far provinces) for nearly two years now. The relative security that we have experienced here in Kabul has been provided by the Afghan Army and Police and to be fair; those brave men and women have done a grand job mostly.
But they have relied heavily on US airstrikes and tactical training along with equipment and funding. How this sudden departure will pan out in the coming months and into next year is unknown?

We have spent several years now building capacity here in Afghanistan under our Afghan team. I was in the process of reducing my visits to Kabul to concentrate on furthering our message to a wider audience when the pandemic trapped me in Kabul.
But our plan was always to be a charity delivering animal welfare commitments in Afghanistan via our Afghan team. We have never directly relied on US or coalition troops for security here in Kabul for several years now.
So for as long as you continue to give us your amazing support then Nowzad will continue as we have done so before. There will always be an injured or ill dog or cat needing treatment and care and with over 1 million working donkeys and horses in Afghanistan, our newly initiated working animal programme will be needed for some time.
One thing that will change for sure is our core mission; the soldier rescues, the reason we were here in the first place, will now come to an end.
There have been many organisations that have followed our lead since we started in 2007, but Nowzad will always be the original charity who was first in and most definitely last out as we plan to stay; our legacy of animal welfare can be traced back to our very first rescue; Nowzad the docked eared scarred stray who was befriended by a certain Royal Marine Sergeant.

The last few weeks have seen many soldiers reach out to us and we are sure there will be several more before the last soldier leaves Afghanistan in just a few months’ time. We will just have to hold any US soldier rescues now for a year at the clinic.

And I thought it was tough enough already to be running a charity in Afghanistan. Who knew it could get any tougher?

Our team has been desperately trying to move dogs that have been waiting many months to their adopted families and soldiers.
The administration for a flight from Kabul to either the EU, UK or America has been nothing short of epic as we have battled coronavirus cancellations, lockdowns and with Brexit; well…that cluster just made matters worse.
As this newsletter goes to print during June we should be transporting; (thanks to your generous support and a lot of luck!); Loki, Apple, Gary, Asal, Pumpkin, Boomerang, Feona, Dosti, Pagunda, Demo, Scrappy, Julie and Phineas dogs and Franccc, Nipper, Mico, Mutlu, Shaheen family and Zeus cats……. These dogs and cats have waited far too long to finally arrive at their forever homes.
And in July will be the last 6 dog rescues to the US – it will involve several back to back flights and a lot of driving as with the summer months in America in full swing, we are forced to drive the dogs to their forever homes as there are no internal flights for animals at this time.

In fact, our plans to expand, thanks to your super donations to the Creamy’s legacy extension to our quarantine and isolation facility, are progressing at a super pace.
The clinic has been rebuilt now with an additional two floors, which once complete, will put Nowzad truly on the map with one of the most sophisticated facilities in this part of the world for animal welfare including our own laboratory.
And just think how many more dogs and cats that find themselves in desperate need we will now be able to treat? I am super excited by the potential.
Our working animal programme is having fantastic success and is here to stay. Read more about that later on in this newsletter.
I cannot thank you all enough for rallying to the cause of animal welfare improvement in Afghanistan. Every day our team here is inspired by your generosity and dedication – thank you.

So for now it is too early for me to say with any level of certainty for sure, what will be the effect of the troop withdraw from Afghanistan. Please though, be rest assured that Nowzad is staying put for as long as possible and continuing to be here for the animals with no voice but yours as you have entrusted us to do.

So what can you do to be the difference?

Sadly; it is an answer I always give. But this time it is more important than ever!

Please donate and spread the word. More than ever we need the funds in place to ensure we can weather any storm coming our way and there are a few storms forecast... Nowzad is NOT closing our doors. We intend to ride out the coming storm here in Kabul.
You have my word that Nowzad as a charity and I are not giving up. The animals of Afghanistan need us and they most definitely need you.
To me you are the true heroes of animal welfare. By donating you make the difference here at the shelter and clinic in Kabul.
And for that I am forever grateful.
Please consider making a legacy to Nowzad, because even after you are gone, an animal will be saved because of your generosity. That is a legacy.

The October edition of the newsletter will look back on our favourite soldier rescues in a commemorative edition, the end of an era but with it our determination to work even harder on your behalf for animal welfare in Afghanistan.
I started the Nowzad charity against a backdrop of challenges that needed to be overcome yet we flourished because of the determination and amazing unwavering support of the Nowzad family of supporters – YOU.
We have the same goals to strive to as before – just new challenges to overcome!

Thank you and keep safe

Pen F

Kabul June 2021

An update including the CDC ban and US troops leaving Afghanistan