West News Wire: One of Britain’s greatest and most adored athletes, four-time gold medalist Mo Farah has been carrying a secret burden all these years: as a child, he was brought to the country illegally and made to care for other children before he used running to free himself from a life of servitude.

In a recent documentary, Farah claims that his real name is Hussein Abdi Kahin and that he was abducted from the country of Djibouti in East Africa when he was between the ages of 8 and 9. He claims that he was brought to Britain by a woman he didn’t know using phoney travel documents that bore his image and 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.

Read More
Bin Salman's dream series, this time Green Initiatives

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.

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.

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.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here