Afghan People vs Animals: Which Refugees Are More Welcome in the West?

Published August 29th, 2021 - 07:33 GMT
Afghans by Pakistan border
Afghan refugees waiting at a border with Pakistan. (AFP)

As thousands of Afghans and foreigners are evacuated from the Kabul airport, weeks after the Taliban took control of most of the country, debates over a potential "refugee crisis" are intertwined with calls to rescue animals from the country.

According to US officials, the US Marines will continue to evacuate Americans and Afghans until the 31st of August, which marks the day the US will end its military presence in Afghanistan, almost 20 years after it invaded the country.

US and other NATO officials have talked about evacuating hundreds of thousands of Afghans along with coalition nationals ever since the extremist group regained power and entered Kabul on the 15th of August 2021.

Ever since, western media have been bracing for a new influx of refugees, referring to thousands of Afghans who will be relocated in North America and Europe in the wake of the Taliban takeover. Contradicting voices in several western countries have either welcomed Afghans fleeing the risk of persecution by the Taliban, or weighed in the possibility of the economic cost of the new wave of refugees.

Meanwhile, many have highlighted continuous efforts to rescue thousands of animals from Afghanistan, predominantly dogs and cats.

A British Ex-Marine, Pen Farthing, has appeared on TV urging authorities to help him evacuate more than 200 dogs from Kabul, saying that he "won't leave the city until all animals and staff workers of his animal shelter are evacuated."

However, he came under fire after reports that his efforts have successfully resulted in the evacuation of 94 dogs and 79 cats by Friday evening, but that he could not save his Afghan staff members who were not allowed to enter the Kabul airport despite having valid UK visas.

Some online commentators questioned western priorities, wondering if animals' rescue efforts suggest that animals will face the same risk of persecution faced by Afghans who have worked with foreigners over the course of 20 years.

Moreover, an online campaign has been able to raise more than $300k to help shelter and rescue dogs in Kabul amid the crisis.

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