We are the Refugee Union, Hong Kong’s only refugee-led society. There are currently more than 14,000 refugees and asylum seekers in the city. Not everyone is a member of our society but on this demand for change we probably speak for the majority.
In January 2014 Hong Kong Government introduced “food cards” valued at HK$1200 a month for refugees to purchase groceries at Park’n’Shop supermarkets. Refugees protested that prices were cheaper at other stores and especially at local wet markets. For the past eight years the policy has not changed, nor has the cards’ value increased with inflation. Regrettably our demands for change consistently fall on deaf ears.
The current pandemic made matters worse. Residents are stocking up on groceries ahead of the universal Covid-19 testing scheduled for the coming weeks. The mass testing will likely involve a week-long citywide lockdown which already caused panic buying across Hong Kong. Shelves in many supermarkets and stores have been stripped bare, especially at Park’n’Shop.
Panic buying is hurting refugees most because we don’t have family, social or community networks to help us when government assistance fails. Forcing refugees to use “food cards” only at one supermarket group greatly limits our opportunities to purchase groceries and maximizes food insecurity and hunger in our families. It doesn’t have to be this way.
It is laughable to suggest that refugees should not receive cash because we will buy beer and cigarettes … that is simply not the rational behaviour of hungry human beings. It is unreasonable to distrust refugees from managing HK$40 a day to buy the groceries we need at the cheapest prices we can find in the neighbourhood.
We respectfully demand that Hong Kong Government recognize the physical and psychological harm caused to vulnerable refugee families and urgently replace the “food cards” with stored-value Octopus cards accepted by all groceries shops and at some stalls in wet markets.
Hong Kong’s empty supermarket shelves scream against the economic injustice represented by these “food cards”. Please support our demand for change. Thank you.
We would be grateful if you could share this petition with family, friends and on social media as word of mouth is the best way to raise awareness and advocate for change.
CLICK TO SIGN OUR PETITION: https://chng.it/2QZz2N9cxL