It was really hard for us at AFRUCA to watch last night’s BBC programme on Sir Mo Farah, the British Olympic Champion, and the revelation that he was trafficked from Djibouti to the UK at the age of nine years and forced to work as a domestic slave and look after children.

Sir Mo Farah told the BBC how he was given the name Mohamed Farah by those who brought him to the UK and that his name at birth was Hussein Abdi Kahin.

AFRUCA commends Sir Mo Farah for his bravery in telling his story of child trafficking and exploitation. Based on our ongoing work, we know there are thousands of others who have gone through similar tragic circumstances as Sir Mo and whose stories are unknown. Since 2001, AFRUCA has worked with hundreds of children and young people trafficked from different African countries for different forms of exploitation including domestic slavery and sexual exploitation.

In 2017, AFRUCA received a major grant from the Home Office to raise awareness of domestic slavery in African Communities in London and Manchester, how to spot the signs and help support victims.

Currently, AFRUCA provides practical and emotional well-being support for victims and survivors of trafficking and modern slavery across Manchester, with funding from Manchester City Council.

Based on the depth of our work, we recognise the gaps in government policies and support systems for victims of trafficking who, just like Mo Farah, can remain unidentified for many years or their stories are not believed. We highlight here the suffering, re-traumatisation and re-victimisation that many victims of trafficking and modern slavery experience while waiting for months and years for the Home Office to accept their stories and make a decision about their future.

We would like to underline the plight of many victims of trafficking and slavery who have been forced into criminal activities by their traffickers but convicted and jailed rather than offered support and assistance.

The UK should be a sanctuary for victims and survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking. We at AFRUCA call on the UK government to review and improve its policies and practices, provide support and succour to enable those affected like Sir Mo Farah to heal from their experiences and thrive as veritable members of our society.

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