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The great British Olympian Mo Farah says he was trafficked as a child

LONDON – The great Olympian Mo Farah, winner of four gold medals and one of Britain’s greatest and most beloved athletes, carries all these years a secret charge: he was taken illegally to the UK when he was young and forced to care for other children before escape from a life of servitude by running.

In a new documentary, Farah says that her real name is Hussein Abdi Kahin and that she was taken from the East African nation of Djibouti when she was about 8 or 9 years old. He says a woman he did not know brought him to Britain using fakes. travel documents that included his image along with the name of Mohammed Farah.

The revelations come as Britain struggles to cope with a wave of people fleeing conflict and famine in Africa, the Middle East and Asia in weak ships organized by human traffickers helping desperate people cross the English Channel. Criminal gangs are also introducing smugglers into the country and forcing them to work sexually, criminal activities and unpaid work.

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In the documentary, produced by the BBC and Red Bull Studios, Farah said she thought she was going to Europe to live with family and had a role with contact details.

“The lady took it off and right in front of me ripped them off and put them in the bin,” Farah said in the film, which will air 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 take care of his children, Farah said. He was not allowed to go to school until he was 12 years old.

“I wasn’t treated like part of the family,” Farah said. “If I wanted food in my mouth, my job was to take care of those kids: shower them, cook them, clean them.”

Farah received British citizenship in 2000 and has represented Britain in three consecutive Summer Olympics since 2008. She captured hearts in Britain and elsewhere with the look of joy and amazement following her victory in the 5,000 meters at the London Games in London. 2012 after winning before the 10,000. -meter title. He won the same races at the 2016 Rio Games in January.

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He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017.

Farah said earlier that she moved to Britain with her parents as a Somali refugee. But in the documentary, he says his parents have never been to the UK. Her father was shot dead during the riots in Somalia when Farah was 4 years old, according to the film. Her mother and two siblings live on the family farm in Somaliland, a separatist region of Somalia that is not internationally recognized.

Farah says her fortune changed when she was finally allowed to go to school. One teacher who was interviewed for the documentary recalled a 12-year-old boy who looked “careless and careless,” was “emotionally and culturally alienated,” and spoke little English.

But he began to flourish 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 adopt him as a foster child.

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“I still missed my royal family, but from that moment on everything improved,” Farah said. “I felt like a lot of things were being taken off my shoulders and I felt like I was.”

Farah said she feared being deported if she talked about her childhood experiences. He decided to tell his story to raise awareness and challenge people’s perception of human trafficking, he said.

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

In 2020, more than 10,000 people were referred to British authorities as possible victims of modern slavery, compared to 2,340 in 2014, according to the Home Office, the government agency responsible for enforcing borders.

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

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The UK has reached an agreement with Rwanda to send some asylum seekers on a one-way trip to the East African nation, where they will be able to apply for asylum. Although Prime Minister Boris Johnson says this will break the business model of criminal gangs charging thousands of pounds to migrants for crossing the Channel, immigration rights groups say it is illegal and inhumane.

But modern slavery does not only affect migrants. Non-governmental organizations are insisting that the victims of modern slavery are forced into servitude forced into coercion and violence rather than chains. Such organizations often found it difficult to put a human face to the crime, fearing that the exposure had inflicted additional trauma. That alone makes Farah’s case unique.

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

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“I just have to take my hat off to someone who went through that trauma and lived that experience, but in reality it was still successful in life, because I think there are too many people who, for them, the trauma is too much and unfortunately, they don’t have the mechanisms of adequate support to thrive and move on with their lives, ”he said.

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

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

The British Home Office said no action would be taken against Farah, and not just because she is a prominent athlete.

The Interior Ministry’s guidelines make it clear that the agency assumes that a child is not complicit in obtaining citizenship by deception, stating: “If the person was a child at the time the fraud, misrepresentation or concealment of facts was committed materials, the worker in the case should assume that they were not complicit in any deception on the part of their parents or guardians. “

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Politicians, athletes and celebrities rushed to offer Farah their support.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, praised his bravery.

“Everything Sir Mo has survived proves that he is not only one of our best Olympic athletes, but he is a great Briton,” Khan wrote on Twitter. “@Mo Farah thank you for sharing your story and highlighting these terrible crimes. We must build a future where these tragic events never happen again.”

Usain Bolt, an eight-time Olympic champion Jamaican sprinter, posted three crossed-handed emojis, sometimes referred to as “prayer hands,” on Farah’s Instagram page. Andrew Butchart, Farah’s teammate in 2016 and sixth in the 5,000 meters in Rio, posted “Much Love” and “Very Proud” along with a heart emoji.

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The great British Olympian Mo Farah says he was trafficked as a child

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