“What’s going on?” you might be thinking.
Please take a few minutes to walk in our shoes.
We refugees (called Unified Screening Mechanism or USM claimants in Hong Kong) are banned from working under Section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance. We sign a document agreeing to this restriction when we are released from detention.
The case that sets the sentencing tariff is “Usman Butt HCMA 70/2010”. https://bit.ly/393HHVD The starting point is 22.5 months after trial, 15 months after 1/3 discount for guilty plea. it is usually followed by weeks/months in Immigration detention.
One of our female members was recently released from jail for working illegally. She went straight to Yuen Long to pick up her two children who had been taken in by a Refugee Union member.
The Government provides us with insufficient assistance, namely: $1500 rent, $1200 food coupons, $300 utilities and $200 transportation – for a total of HK$ 3,200 per month. There has been no increase since January 2014.
The Government claims it is sufficient to prevent refugees from working. We call this the “BIG LIE” because there is no provision for clothes, shoes, haircuts, SIM cards, shaving cream, lady products, baby products or toilet paper … you get the picture!
What about the big expenses everyone pays in Hong Kong? Rent and rental deposits for example. The cheapest, windowless, 10 m², rundown, subdivided room costs $4000. Two refugees can share a room but they only receive $3000 for rent.
Yesterday two refugee ladies came to the office. They were homeless but had located a room in Yau Ma Tei for $4500. They were distressed because to raise $1500 they both had to ” .” The Refugee Union provided the cash.
You might think it is just an example with shock value, but to walk in our shoes means sharing our challenges and worries. “How to get money?” is a daily preoccupation, one we bare stoically because we are responsible for ourselves and our families.
The Refugee Union helps us with its limited resources. It is the only NGO that hands out cash to refugees. Now you can help us directly by donating cash to “Drink For Justice” – a registered charity that pass 100% of your donations to us. https://bit.ly/3bUe0YJ
If you have questions or want to speak to us, please contact us through WhatsApp 9828 7176 or come directly to the office at
3/F., 102 First Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong.