TIMES.KY

Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Monday, May 20, 2024

UK Olympic great Mo Farah says he was trafficked as a child

UK Olympic great Mo Farah says he was trafficked as a child

Olympic great Mo Farah -- the winner of four gold medals and one of Britain’s greatest and best-loved athletes -- has been carrying a secret burden all these years: He was illegally brought to the U.K. as a youth and forced to care for other children before he escaped a life of servitude through running.
In a new documentary, Farah says his real name is Hussein Abdi Kahin and that he was from taken from the East African nation of Djibouti when he was about 8 or 9. He says a woman he didn’t know brought him to Britain using fake travel documents that included his picture alongside the name Mohammed Farah.

The revelations come as Britain struggles to deal with a surge of people fleeing conflict and hunger in Africa, the Middle East and Asia on flimsy boats organized by human traffickers who assist the desperate to cross the English Channel. Criminal gangs are also smuggling people into the country and forcing them into sex work, criminal activities and unpaid labor.

In the documentary, produced by the BBC and Red Bull Studios, Farah said he thought he was going to Europe to live with relatives and had piece of paper with the contact details.

“The lady took it off me and right in front of me ripped them up and put it in the bin,” Farah said in the film, to be broadcast Wednesday. “And at that moment I knew I was in trouble.”

The woman took him to an apartment in west London where he was forced to care for her children, Farah said. He wasn’t allowed to go to school until he was 12.

“I wasn’t treated as part of the family,” Farah said. “If I wanted food in my mouth, my job was to look after those kids — shower them, cook for them, clean for them.”

Farah was granted U.K. citizenship in 2000 and represented Britain at three straight Summer Olympics starting in 2008. He captured hearts in Britain and elsewhere with the look of joy and astonishment after his triumph in the 5,000 meters at the 2012 London Games after earlier winning the 10,000-meter title. He won the same races at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017.

Farah previously said he had moved to Britain with his parents as a refugee from Somalia. But in the documentary, he says his parents never were in the U.K. His father was killed by gunfire during unrest in Somalia when Farah was 4, according to the film. His mother and two brothers live on the family farm in Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia that is not internationally recognized.

Farah says his fortunes changed when he was finally allowed to attend school. A teacher who was interviewed for the documentary recalled a 12-year-old boy who appeared “unkempt and uncared for,” was “emotionally and culturally alienated” and spoke little English.

But he began to blossom on the track and eventually told his story to a physical education instructor. The teacher contacted local officials, who arranged for a Somali family to take him in as a foster child.

“I still missed my real family, but from that moment everything got better,” Farah said. “I felt like a lot of stuff was lifted off my shoulders, and I felt like me.”

Farah said he had feared he would be deported if he spoke about his childhood experiences. He decided to tell his story to publicize and challenge people’s perceptions of human trafficking, he said.

“I had no idea there was so many people who are going through exactly the same thing that I did,” he said. “It just shows how lucky I was.”

In 2020, more than 10,000 people were referred to authorities in Britain as potential victims of modern slavery, up from 2,340 in 2014, according to the Home Office, the government agency responsible for border enforcement.

Immigration authorities are also under pressure as the number of people entering the country on small boats jumped to 28,526 last year from 299 in 2018, government statistics show.

The U.K. has struck a deal with Rwanda to send some asylum seekers on a one way voyage to the East African nation, where they would be able to apply for asylum. While Prime Minister Boris Johnson says this will break the business model of the criminal gangs who charge migrants thousands of pounds to cross the Channel, immigration rights groups say it is illegal and inhumane.

But modern slavery doesn’t only affect migrants. Nongovernmental organizations are at pains to insist that victims of modern slavery are forced into servitude bound by coercion and violence rather than shackles. Such organizations have often found it difficult to put a human face on the crime, fearing that exposure will inflict further trauma. That alone makes Farah’s case unique.

Justine Carter of Unseen, a charity that deals with victims of modern slavery, stresses that it takes courage to overcome such conditions. Farah’s revelation will let people around the world know that modern slavery can happen anywhere.

“I just have to take my hat off to somebody who has come through that trauma and has lived that experience, but has actually still succeeded in life, because I think there are far too many people that, for them the trauma is too much and unfortunately don’t have the right support mechanisms in place to kind of thrive and move on with their lives,” she said.

Besides raising awareness, Farah’s example could encourage others to seek help.

“There is always a way out, an alternative, a channel that you can go down. And I think Mo Farah has been living, breathing proof of that,” she said.

Britain’s Home Office said no action would be taken against Farah — and not just because he is a prominent athlete.

Home Office guidance makes clear that the agency assumes a child is not complicit in gaining citizenship by deception, stating: “If the person was a child at the time the fraud, false representation or concealment of material fact was perpetrated, the caseworker should assume that they were not complicit in any deception by their parent or guardian.”

Politicians, sports figures and celebrities rushed to offer Farah their support.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan praised his courage.

“Everything Sir Mo has survived proves he’s not only one of our greatest Olympians but a truly great Briton,” Khan tweeted. “@Mo Farah thank you for sharing your story & shining a spotlight on these awful crimes. We must build a future where these tragic events are never repeated.”

Usain Bolt, an eight-time Olympic champion sprinter from Jamaica, posted three emojis of folded hands - sometimes referred to as “prayer hands” - on Farah’s Instagram page. Andrew Butchart, Farah’s teammate in 2016 and sixth-place finisher in the 5,000 meters in Rio, posted “Much love” and “very proud” along with a heart emoji.
Newsletter

Related Articles

TIMES.KY
0:00
0:00
Close
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Israel: Unprecedented Civil Disobedience Looms as IDF Reservists Protest Judiciary Reform
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Italian Court's Controversial Ruling on Sexual Harassment Ignites Uproar
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
BBC Personalities Rebuke Accusations Amidst Scandal Involving Teen Exploitation
A Swift Disappointment: Why Is Taylor Swift Bypassing Canada on Her Global Tour?
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
Unilever Plummets in a $2.5 Billion Free Fall, to begin with: A Reckoning for Misuse of Corporate Power Against National Interest
Beyond the Blame Game: The Need for Nuanced Perspectives on America's Complex Reality
Twitter Targets Meta: A Tangle of Trade Secrets and Copycat Culture
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
×