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Sir Mo Farah: I was trafficked to UK as a child

Human Trafficking
12 July 2022
Sir Mo Farah

Sir Mo Farah has revealed that he was trafficked to the UK illegally as a child and forced into domestic servitude.

The four time Olympic champion delves into his previously undisclosed past in a new BBC documentary.

Sir Mo formerly said he'd left Somalia aged just eight to join his father in the UK, in hope of a better life.

In the documentary, 'The Real Mo Farah', to be broadcast on Wednesday, he says he was in fact trafficked and forced to work for a family.

Most people know me as Mo Farah, but it’s not my name or it’s not the reality,” he says. "The real story is I was born in Somaliland, north of Somalia, as Hussein Abdi Kahin.

“When I was four my dad was killed in the civil war, you know as a family we were torn apart...I was brought into the UK illegally under the name of another child called Mohamed Farah".

Sir Mo says he had to do housework and childcare "if I wanted food in my mouth". The woman whose house he lived in told him: "If you ever want to see your family again, don't say anything."

For the first few years the family didn't allow him to go to school, but when he was about 12 he enrolled at a school in West London.

He hardly had any English and was far behind other pupils academically but in his PE classes, Mo discovered a love for athletics.

Sir Mo's PE teacher, Alan Watkinson, noticed a transformation when the young boy hit the track: "The only language he seemed to understand was the language of PE and sport," he says.

Sir Mo says sport was a lifeline for him as "the only thing I could do to get away from this [living situation] was to get out and run".

He eventually confided in Mr Watkinson about his true identity, his background, and the family he was being forced to work for.

The PE teacher contacted social services and helped Sir Mo to be fostered by another family. Life improved from there and he went on to pursue a successful career in sport.

Sir Mo is speaking out now to challenge public perceptions about human trafficking and modern slavery, and encourage victims to come forward.

CARE campaigns for more support in law for victims of trafficking and modern slavery and opposes attempts to row back on previous commitments.

To learn more about our work in this area, visit our Cause Page: CARE for Human Trafficking

You can learn more about supporting our work here: Donate | CARE

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