HE has worked in some of the world’s most hostile countries.

But now this Southampton man is facing one of his biggest challenges yet – running his first marathon.

Dharmender ‘Del’ Singh, 37, will tackle the 26.2-mile slog in Gaza, Palestine, in a marathon organised by the United Nations, despite having “never run any sort of race” before.

Del, whose role as an adviser in international development has seen him work alongside governments in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Sudan and Libya, is now training for the challenge, which takes place on March 1.

The event was held for the first time last year and raised more than £650,000 for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, to help deliver a summer programme of sports and activities to Palestinian children.

And former Cantell School pupil Del, from St Mary’s, is hoping to raise £3,000 by taking part this year.

He said: “All you hear are these horror stories coming out of Gaza about conflict and terrorist attacks, but what people forget is that half of the population there are under the age of 16.

“It’s important that people from outside the area go there and engage with them and help them.

“There are around 250,000 kids in Gaza who will have the summer games available to them, thanks to the efforts of the people taking part in the marathon.”