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Cardinal praises Mo Farah for revealing he was trafficked into UK

  • Jo Siedlecka

Sir Mo Farah. Image by Sue Kellerman on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Sir Mo Farah. Image by Sue Kellerman on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Source: Archbishops House/ICN

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Santa Marta Group and Chancellor of St Mary's University, has thanked Olympic star Sir Mo Farah for announcing publicly that he was smuggled illegally into the UK as a young child and held in domestic servitude.

The Team GB athlete said in a new television documentary he was given the name Mohamed Farah by those who flew him over from Djibouti. His real name is Hussein Abdi Kahin. He was flown from Djibouti at the age of nine by a woman he had never met, and then made to look after another family's children, he said.

"For years I just kept blocking it out. But you can only block it out for so long," he said.

In the past the long-distance runner always said he had come to the UK from Somalia with his parents as a refugee. But in a new documentary Farah admits that his family have never been to the UK. His mother and his two brothers live on their family farm in Somaliland.

Cardinal Vincent said: "I salute the courage of Sir Mo Farah in coming forward to reveal his traumatic story of being trafficked into the UK as a young child and subsequently forced into domestic servitude. It was only with the considerable help of a teacher at his school that he was able to be freed and then go on to fulfil his potential as a human and an athlete, both at school and then at St Mary's University in Twickenham.

"His story demonstrates the tragic extent of human trafficking in our midst and how vulnerable children as well as adults are targeted and victimised. Sir Mo is one of many thousand victims of human trafficking in the UK and one of over 40 million victims across the world.

"As president of the Santa Marta Group, the anti-trafficking charity with its mandate from Pope Francis for the Church to work together with law enforcement officials and civil society leaders in moving to abolish modern slavery, I thank Sir Mo for his brave witness. This is a crime that permeates all countries and leaves a trail of misery as innocent victims are used as a disposable commodity by unscrupulous criminals. This is an evil crime and should not be acceptable.

"The UK has a Modern Slavery Act and the United Nations has prioritised ending human trafficking in its Sustainable Development Goals. Together, inspired by survivors of human trafficking including Sir Mo, we must collaboratively act in this struggle. I call on Government, as well as leaders across civil society, to re-double our efforts to abolish human trafficking and modern slavery."

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