This March continues to be a very difficult month for us and for people in Hong Kong. Numbers of infection keep accelerating following the outbreak of the Omicron Variant virus locally. Many are suffering from the pain of disease and some have lost their loved ones. Despite the city being placed under lockdown, we stand firm and provide essential service for asylum seekers and refugees. This is a review of the activities that happened at our centre in the past month.
We are the Refugee Union. Our organisation was founded in 2014 and is the first refugee-led organisation in Hong Kong. We have a centre based in Sheung Wan. We work with visions to safeguard refugee rights and to keep improving the status quo of asylum seekers and refugees in Hong Kong.
Emergency food drive
Asylum seekers and refugees have nowhere to seek help as government offices, churches, and supporting organisations are closed during the lockdown. Prices of necessities also go skyrocketing as people scramble for them in panic. Asylum seekers in Hong Kong are prohibited from working and are solely reliant on HK$40 per day to survive. The current pandemic has further worsened their situation.
We therefore have initiated an online fundraising campaign. We will allocate the resources we gathered to asylum seekers and refugees who are in need. Kindly show your support for our Emergency Food Drive.
Call for abolishing the food card system
We have also initiated an online petition calling for an abolishment of the food card system. Currently asylum seekers are restricted to purchase items at the ParknShop supermarket. For the past eight years the policy has not changed, nor has the card value increased with inflation. It is unreasonable to distrust asylum seekers from managing the small amount of cash to purchase items they need at the cheapest price they can find in the neighbourhood.
We respectfully request the Hong Kong government to review the food card system and stipend for asylum seekers. Kindly show your support for us by signing the petition.
Giving is a blessing
This month we have received donations of wide-ranging items. We would like to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt gratitude to all generous donors for lending us a hand. Your support means a lot to us. As always, we promise to deliver all donations we received to asylum seekers and refugees who are in need.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank professional journalists at the South China Morning Post and Hong Kong Free Press for bringing our situation to public attention. Thanks also go to Canada in Hong Kong for recommending our organisation to the public.
Please stay tuned to our official website and social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) for the most updated information. You are also welcome to contact us by email at email@example.com or by visiting our centre during office hours (Mondays to Saturdays, 10am-6pm).
We are refugees helping refugees. Thank you for your support of our initiative.
SCMP – Refugees in Hong Kong struggle to buy supplies as panic buying over lockdown rumours sweeps food off shelves
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$40 a day to buy the groceries we need at the cheapest prices we can find in the neighbourhood.
We respectfully demand that Hong Kong Government recognize the physical and psychological harm caused to vulnerable refugee families and urgently replace the “food cards” with stored-value Octopus cards accepted by all groceries shops and at some stalls in wet markets.
Hong Kong’s empty supermarket shelves scream against the economic injustice represented by these “food cards”. Please support our demand for change. Thank you.
We would be grateful if you could share this petition with family, friends and on social media as word of mouth is the best way to raise awareness and advocate for change.
CLICK TO SIGN OUR PETITION: https://chng.it/2QZz2N9cxL
The recent panic buying at supermarkets is especially problematic for refugees because we can only buy groceries at Park’n’Shop. Our government-issued food cards provide HK$ 1,200 a month ($40 a day) in electronic allowance that cannot be spent in any supermarket, wet market or grocery shop other than those in the Park’n’Shop group. So what are we supposed to do when we find no bread, rice, noodles, vegetables and fruits there?
The limitations of this inflexible policy are particularly glaring under the challenging conditions of this pandemic lockdown. A member from Yuen Long posted on our group chat, “So sad. No food to buy. Where will we use our foodcard?” A member from Kowloon added, “Sham Shui Po Parknshop is the same thing! No juice. No vegetable. No egg. No have any fruit also … oranges, grapes … anything I cannot find tonight!” Another member complained, “Mine is empty too. My case officer doesn’t even reply how to use the foodcard in quarantine. All Parknshop is empty. So Sad ????”
In these difficult times we are deeply thankful for the generous support of donors who not only provide essential groceries, but also donate cash that allows us to purchase food wherever we can find it. It is tough enough to live in Hong Kong with empty wallets in normal times, but this pandemic has taken our suffering to another level. Frankly, without the support of residents, our families would be going hungry. The government is closed for us.
If possible, please donate to our crowdfunding program which helps us fight hunger. Currently online orders are backed up for weeks, so cash donations are the most direct and practical ways to help us today. We can then purchase what we need at wet markets and local grocery stores where supplies are still available.
Please spread the word with friends and on social media as the best way to raise awareness about our plight.
To support with cash please visit our crowdfunding program here: https://bit.ly/3qYFq5u