Okay to be British then. Yet some would have him stripped of his knighthood now, Mo Farah double winner of the 5000-10000m London 2012 by Citizen59. CC BY-SA 2.0 license

WITH Mo Farah’s revelation of having been trafficked into the UK under the name of another child, the Government’s refugee policy again raises its head. If indeed it ever lowered it. In shame as it should. Born Hussein Abdi Kahin, in Somaliland, north of Somalia, Mo said he had been brought to the UK with a woman and her children under the name of another boy called Mohamed Farah.

The four-time gold medallist has told his life story in a documentary broadcast by the BBC last night. His childhood sounds quite horrendous and, instead of condemnation of his ‘deception’ as a child, one should look into the reasons behind his change of name and identity. In the documentary he does not attempt to fudge any details but gives a clear account of what happened to him, and doubtless has happened and is happening to countless others.

Harrowing account

Following his father’s death in 1987, Mo and his twin, Hassan, were sent by their mother to live with an uncle in neighbouring Djibouti for their own safety. He recalled a woman visiting the house several times to observe him. He was told that she would be taking him to Europe to live with relatives and the nine-year-old had no reason to disbelieve her. What nine-year-old orphan would?

But, when he reached the UK, things were not as they seemed. He said: “I had all the contact details for my relative and once we got to her house, the lady took it off me and right in front of me ripped them up and put it in the bin and at that moment I knew I was in trouble.”

He was told to work around the house if he expected to be fed.”If I wanted food in my mouth my job was to look after those kids, shower them, cook for them, clean for them, and she said, ‘If you ever want to see your family again, don’t say anything. If you say anything, they will take you away’.”

It’s a harrowing account, but there’s more to it than just this one man’s story. Mo Farah and his wife, Tania, consulted lawyers who told them that he could be stripped of his nationality because the citizenship was obtained by fraud. However, they thought that the risk would be lessened because he was trafficked to the UK.  And indeed, it is understood the Home Office will not be taking any action against the famed athlete. Home Office guidance assumes that a child is not complicit in gaining citizenship by deception. A spokesperson said: “No action whatsoever will be taken against Sir Mo”.

Nationality and Borders Act

This is all as it should be, but what about all the other victims of trafficking? Those who are not as high profile? Under the Nationality and Borders Act passed towards the end of April this year there were some frightening reforms. Tougher penalties for people smugglers with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment is one, and, while many may applaud this move, it will do nothing to deter these smugglers, some of whom are traffickers, preying upon the vulnerable looking for safe haven.

The Home Office also introduced new measures to end what they call ‘the merry-go-round of legal challenges which can be used to frustrate removal of those with no right to be in the UK’. Barring them their right to a lawyer? Is this what we have become as a society? We are going to deny vulnerable people the right to counsel?


And just before this Bill passed we all heard of the horrific measures the Government is taking to have refugees/migrants who enter the UK in a manner deemed illegal by the Government, processed in Rwanda. The Government likes to say ‘processed’ but what is not made as much of as it should be is that these people sent to Rwanda are not being processed and allowed to return to the UK if asylum is granted; oh no, they are to stay in Rwanda and build their lives there. No matter that they have no connections with anyone in Rwanda. If the Tories had their way, Mo would have drowned in the channel or been deported to Rwanda.

There are those now saying his knighthood should be taken from him and others saying, “Well, it’s okay for him, he’s an Olympic Gold medallist, but those others eh?”. Hypocrites, the lot of them. And I include the Government in this. If this had been a case of ‘plain old’ Hussein Abdi Kahin seeking refuge, Priti Patel would have had him shipped off or detained more quickly than you could say ‘evil’.

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