Conversation between British-Jewish translator and leading vet helps rescue of 92 Afghans
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Conversation between British-Jewish translator and leading vet helps rescue of 92 Afghans

Exclusive: Operation Magic Carpet rescue mission co-ordinated from London by animal welfare campaigner Dominic Dyer and an unnamed Jerusalem-based worker

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

People show their relief  at being free from Taliban control
People show their relief  at being free from Taliban control

A conversation between a British Jewish translator living in Jerusalem and her friend, a veterinarian based in Britain, has led to the rescue of 92 people from Afghanistan after the Taliban resumed control in August.

The Operation Magic Carpet rescue mission was co-ordinated from London by animal welfare campaigner Dominic Dyer, and carried out by a team employed by the American-Israeli humanitarian rescue specialist Moti Kahana, who has told Jewish News this was likely to be his last such land-based operation, so great has the danger become.

The group, brought out from Kabul and now living in safe houses in Islamabad in neighbouring Pakistan, comprises 60 former staff members (and dependents) from the animal welfare charity Mayhew, of which Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, is a patron.

At the core of the rescue are 13 men and women who are qualified veterinarians, and who brought five dogs and a cat with them.

The baby born during evacuation

A baby girl was born during the evacuation from Afghanistan, and a 90-year-old woman, believed to have been the oldest person rescued from the country, was also part of the group.

In addition to the former Mayhew staff and family members, the evacuation group involved 32 other people, including business executives, former military and security specialists and their families, all of whom were at risk under the Taliban regime.

Operation Magic Carpet was the result of a unique collaboration between a small group of dedicated volunteers based in Britain, Europe and the Middle East.

The Jerusalem-based translator (who has asked not to be named), who follows animal welfare charities, became aware of the work of Dyer, who had been involved in the operation to evacuate Pen Farthing – who runs an animal shelter – and his Nowzad employees and animals from Kabul.

Relief  at being free from Taliban control

She knew of Kahana’s previous humanitarian work, particularly with Syrians, and made contact with a British vet (who has also asked not to be identified). The two introduced Dyer to Kahana to see if a further rescue operation could take place.

Following an urgent rescue appeal, the substantial funding for Operation Magic Carpet came from two sisters, one living in Gibraltar and the other in India, both of whom felt a deep connection with the plight of Afghan refugees, based on their own father’s history.

The donation was made to honour the life of their late beloved mother.

A businessman and owner of the World Trade Center Gibraltar, Gregory Butcher, also helped finance part of the operation, along with several individuals from Britain and the US.

People show their relief  at being free from Taliban control

Kahana said the rescue, which took more than two months, was “one of the most dangerous operations my company has ever undertaken”.

Escalating violence and ensuing economic collapse after the Taliban takeover meant the evacuation of the 92 took place with extreme caution, with people crossing the border in escorted jeeps containing only two or three people at  a time.

Now the 92, and their companion animals, will be securely accommodated in Islamabad. Funds are still needed to help maintain the group until they find a permanent home, which could take several more months.

Dyer said: “The evacuation of Pen Farthing, his people and animals from Afghanistan in August, was a beacon of light in the dark tragedy of Afghanistan.

“However, due to circumstances outside my control, the Mayhew vets, their families and animals were left behind. Operation Magic Carpet allowed us to go back into Afghanistan to rescue the animal rescuers, along with many other people who faced significant risks under the Taliban regime”.

 

 

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