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Operation Paw-dom: The race to evacuate rescue pets from Kabul

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Kabul-based animal-rescue organisations are calling for international support as they work to evacuate their four-legged patrons out of Afghanistan.

Staff from Kabul Small Animal Rescue with rescue dogs

International citizens and Afghans aren’t the only ones fleeing war-torn Afghanistan, with four-legged residents also trying to find a spot on a plane out of the country. 

Non-for-profit organisation and veterinary clinic, Kabul Small Animal Rescue, provides safe boarding options and medical care to hundreds of cats and dogs.

They also act as an adoption clinic, rehoming Afghan cats and dogs with new families internationally. 

But the recent Taliban takeover has the organisation calling upon international leaders for more support. 

With the Taliban’s foreign troop evacuation deadline fast-approaching, the organisation – where one-third of its employees are women – desperately need a way to leave the country. 

However, with rising flight costs, a lack of access to the Kabul airport and a permit required to board animals on and off planes, evacuating the large number of animals in their care isn’t an easy task. 

Brutal and uncertain conditions for both man, cat and dog

Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, founder of Kabul Small Animal Rescue, says the conditions are brutally hard, uncertain and that her staff are scared. 

“Our animals are receiving nonstop care, and will continue to until we can evacuate them,” Maxwell-Jones wrote in a statement.

“It is heartbreaking to have to leave the place we have put so much blood, sweat and tears into…We built this from the ground up and it breaks us all to have to leave it.”

Kabul smAll animal rescue “pupdate”

Nowzad, a similar non-for-profit animal-rescue organisation is also affected by the Taliban takeover.

The Kabul-based organisation plays a role in uniting stray cats and dogs with international soldiers, many becoming service members while their owners were on-duty.  

But with a number of international soldiers having completed their rounds and returning home, Nowzad also needs to transport their staff and a number of animals adopted by soldiers internationally.

“If we are able to secure any kind of evacuation for Pen [the organisation’s founder] and our team it simply can’t happen without guaranteed safe passage from their compound into and through Kabul airport,” the organisation wrote.

“If any move was to happen without this security in place, we risk the safety and lives of many.”

A plea to foreign leaders

In efforts to help global leaders recognise the urgency of this matter, the CEOs of Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection, alongside RSPCA are calling for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s support. 

Phillip Lymbery, Compassion in World Farming CEO and Steve McIvor, CEO of World Animal Protection addressed the British leaders in a letter, as they work to raise awareness about the situation of non-for-profit animal-rescue groups in Afghanistan. 

“As CEOs, we strongly urge you to effect the safe evacuation from Kabul of all Nowzad’s staff, their families and the animals in their shelter as a matter of urgency,” Lymbery and McIvor wrote.

“Please do everything in your power to get them to safety.”

Here’s what you can do to help

While subtle progress is made at snail pace, Charlotte Maxwell-Jones of Kabul Small Animal Rescue says there is plenty that individuals outside of Afghanistan can do to lend such organisations a helping hand.

“We need continued help fundraising because we are working on charter flight options for both our staff and our animals,” Maxwell-Jones wrote.

“We [also] need to keep up the publicity. This is an ongoing need, ongoing danger, and although we have plans in place, it is not resolved until every foot and paw is off the ground.”

Kabul Small Animal Rescue is also asking for cash due to closed banks and empty ATMs. 

Additionally they’re asking for any support available to help acquire a landing permit for animal charter planes. 

There are also several animals up for adoption and fostering opportunities. 

For those interested, the animal-rescue organisation asks that you contact them at KSARadopt@gmail.com

“It is likely that most of our staff will be allowed to move before the animals, because the US military will not grant a landing permit for a plane whose only manifest is animals,” Maxwell-Jones wrote.

“We will keep with us a small contingent of staff to help us get through the interim period, myself included.”

Written by Rebecca Borg

World

Ivan carves path of utter destruction

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After devastating Florida, Hurricane Ian is headed for Carolinas, Georgia

A grim picture of Hurricane Ian’s horrific wreckage emerged Thursday, as millions of people in Florida faced destroyed homes, completely flooded streets and power outages.

The storm’s power turned out to be worse than many had predicted.

Unfortunately, families who did not evacuate have been left stranded as rising water tore through their homes.

So far, hundreds have been rescued from floodwaters, and emergency crews are still struggling to reach some of the most devastated areas.

According to the National Hurricane Center, a storm surge of 12-18 feet hit as destructive waves struck the coast.

Officials say the hurricane knocked out power to more than 2.6 million customers, mainly in southwest and central Florida.

Meanwhile, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) says that the next 72 hours will certainly be the most critical when it comes to rescue missions.

President Biden said there were ‘early reports of what may be substantial loss of life’ saying, that the numbers are still unclear but there are early reports of fatalities.

The President added, “water rescue is critical—Coast Guard deployed 16 rescue helicopter, six fixed wing aircraft and 18-rescue boats and crews. That’s just one element of the many federal search and rescue teams that were pre-staged in Florida.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis detailed the state’s “monumental effort” to help aid recovery and eventually rebuild.

“Those were really difficult images to see but we’re committed to restoring the infrastructure as needed. That is not going to be an overnight task. That is going to require a lot of love and care—it’s going to require a lot of resources, but we’re going to do it because we understand how important it is.”

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Climate Change

Hurricane Ian could be Florida’s deadliest storm

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Hurricane Ian could be Florida’s deadliest storm as it continues north towards South Carolina

U.S. President Joe Biden says Hurricane Ian could be the deadliest storm in the region’s history, with early reports suggesting substantial loss of life.

Biden spoke at an afternoon briefing at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema).

Ian made landfall on Wednesday local time near the city of Fort Myers. It has led to severe flooding, high winds and storm surges.

Several areas remain submerged, and more than 2.5 million homes are without power.

Many residents are trapped in their homes and unable to escape. Search and rescue teams are working around the clock to provide assistance where they can.

5,000 Florida National Guard troops and 2,000 Guardsman from surrounding states have been deployed.

Eight teams with 800 members are carrying out search and rescue operations.

More than 200 public shelters have now been opened, housing around 34,000 people.

The National Hurricane Centre has downgraded Ian to a tropical storm for now but warns it will likely become a hurricane again later.

The entire coast of South Carolina is just the latest region to be placed on high alert as the storm continues north on its path of destruction.

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World

Finland slams its borders shut on Russia

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Finland will officially closed its border to Russian tourists, marking the last of Moscow’s E-U neighbours to do so.

Finland will close its border with Russia as Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania also closed theirs.

The Finnish government made the decision following Vladimir Putin’s decision to call-up of 300,000 military reservists.

Queue’s at Russia’s border crossings with E-U nations were stretching for kilometres as people attempted to flee the country.

The closure of the border only applies to tourists – and Russians who are visiting family or travelling for work or study will still be granted entry.

The Finnish Foreign Minister stated that the decision was a difficult one to make, but ultimately it was in the best interest of the country.

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