A US animal rights group which normally protests against people wearing fur is now asking people to donate their unwanted fur coats to keep long-suffering refugees warm in Afghanistan.

Bosses of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) plan to ship scores of fur jackets to the war-torn country where they will be used for bedding and clothing for youngsters.

In the past, PETA has given donated fur coats to homeless people or animal care centres but has also splattered them with red paint and set fire to them during protests.

"Everybody's hearts go out to the people of Afghanistan," said PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich. "The images coming out of Afghanistan speak volumes about how much these people are suffering.

"It seems really that the desperately needy anywhere in the world are the only people left who have an excuse for wearing old furs."

In a plea for donations on the organisation's website, spokeswoman Sally Struthers, adds: "You may not be able to undo the animal suffering caused by your fur coat, but by donating it to PETA, you can help alleviate the human suffering of those in war-torn Afghanistan who have few choices in life."