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Charity Commission Concludes Compliance Case Involving Nowzad

The Charity Commission has concluded its engagement with Nowzad in relation to its evacuation of staff and animals from Afghanistan

Nowzad is a British-based animal welfare charity. Prior to the fall of the country in August 2021 it primarily operated in Afghanistan.

The regulator opened a regulatory compliance case in August 2021, after reports in the media about the charity’s efforts to evacuate people and animals from Afghanistan. The evacuation effort became widely known as Operation Ark and generated significant interest from the public and politicians.

The case examined whether the charity’s actions and Operation Ark were within the charity’s purposes and complied with charity law.

The Commission did not identify any regulatory concerns about Operation Ark, concluding that it did fall within the charity’s purposes. The Commission concluded that the objectives of the operation were made clear to donors during fundraising, that trustees’ decision-making and actions during that time were reasonable, and that consequently it was valid to spend funds raised for Operation Ark on the evacuation of animals and staff from Afghanistan.

It was not within the Commission’s remit to consider the role the government may or may not have had in the evacuation of animals and staff from Afghanistan.

The Commission has been engaging more widely with the trustees as they consider and plan for significant challenges and fundamental questions over the future operations of the charity, as the situation in Afghanistan continues to evolve. As part of this the Commission has provided the trustees with advice and guidance on a range of issues, including internal governance and effective risk management while operating in conflict zones.

Tracy Howarth, Assistant Director of Casework and Proactive Regulation, Charity Commission, said:

We take all concerns raised with us seriously and will always assess them impartially and expertly against the Commission’s own criteria and the law. In this case, we did not find evidence of wrongdoing and recognised the trustees’ ongoing efforts to manage the charity under difficult circumstances.
The Commission exists to support trustees to meet their legal duties and responsibilities, as well as to take action where we find problems. To this end, we have provided Nowzad’s trustees with guidance to help ensure they respond appropriately to the uncertainty and challenges they now face.


Notes to Editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent, non-ministerial government department that registers and regulates charities in England and Wales. Its purpose is to ensure charity can thrive and inspire trust so that people can improve lives and strengthen society.

  2. The Commission opened its case on 17 August 2021.


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