December Roundup


December Roundup

Dec 30th, 2021 | RU updates, programs, events | Comment

Refugee Union was founded in 2014 and is the first refugee-led organisation in Hong Kong. As a union of protection claimants, we share the common vision to safeguard refugee rights and have been working closely with our community partners to improve the status quo of asylum-seekers and refugees locally.

Activities at a glance

It is December, cold weather and the festive season mark the end of this year. This month, as usual, has been a fruitful one with many meaningful activities going on in our centre, and we are thrilled to share with you some of them:

On 8 December, we were honoured to host two special guests, Tegan Smyth of the Grassroots Futures and Nick Rothwell of the Kellett School’s Outreach Programme, who came to our centre and talked with our members. Thank you for the visit and for keeping us in mind.

On 13 December, we were very glad to have students of Li Po Chun United World College visiting our centre and preparing activities for children. Thank you for spending time with us and your efforts. We all had great fun.

On 23 December, volunteers of Grassroots Future organised a crochet class in our centre. This time ladies learned how to make African violet hexagons using crochet. Approaching Christmas, we had a party for celebration afterward. Thank you so much for everything our community partner Grassroots Future has prepared for us!

Giving is a blessing

This month we 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 our members who are in need.

Please stay tuned to our official website and social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) for the updates. You are also welcome to contact us by visiting our office or sending us an email at for any enquiry.

We are refugees helping refugees. Thank you for your support of our initiative. Wish you health and prosperity in the new year.

Fundraise for basic needs at Refugee Union

May 5th, 2021 | Food, Fundraising, Health, Housing, RU updates, programs, events | Comment

Refugee Union is the only registered refugee-led society in Hong Kong. Our society receives no government, institutional or corporate support. We have 1000+ active members from 30 countries, including 200+ children and babies.

Our services are greatly limited by the donations we receive. For example, when we don’t have diapers for newborn babies, some mothers will not visit the centre as they must borrow money for transportation.

While we are thankful for our wonderful donor’s support, the welfare provided by the government is manifestly insufficient to meet the basic needs of refugees who have no money and are not allowed to work. You might have read about them before, but the statistics are worth repeating: HK$ 1500 for rent, HK$ 1200 for food, HK$ 300 for utilities and HK$ 200 for public transportation monthly. (

We are entirely dependent on your generosity to fill gaps in welfare implemented by the government with the aim “not to create a magnet effect which could have serious implication on … immigration control” – as if local refugees must suffer as a warning to others not to seek asylum in Hong Kong. (

We are banned from working under Section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance. We sign a document agreeing to this restriction when released from detention and it includes any work, paid or unpaid. The High Court case setting the sentencing tariff is “Usman Butt HCMA 70/2010” wherein the starting point is 22.5 months after trial, with 15 months for guilty pleas. These are typically followed by weeks/months in immigration detention. (

We plead for your financial support to:

  1. Pay transportation fees to collect donations at our centre;
  2. Pay for emergency shelter when members are occasionally homeless;
  3. Purchase diapers and baby milk formula (donations are limited, i.e. only stage 3 formula);
  4. Purchase food staples like rice, milk and canned food to supplement diets;
  5. Pay for school supplies and costs not covered by the Education Bureau;
  6. Supplement rent and electricity for families who do not receive enough assistance;
  7. Purchase rice-cookers and portable gas stoves not supplied by the government;
  8. Buy clothes and shoes required by members who need specific sizes;
  9. Purchase surgical masks and sanitizers necessary under the pandemic.
  10. Pay for medicines that are not supplied by hospital emergency rooms (our only option);

The fact is that our needs should be met by the government as we are left to live in the city without the right to work, but the reality is that refugees are turned into full-time beggars resigned to ask for help everywhere we go. Churches and NGOs do their best to assist with available resources, but nobody can help everyone all the time. Many of our members have been here for over a decade.

For these reasons we humbly appeal for your financial help!

We would be most grateful if you could contribute to this crowdfunding so that we can support more members and show that many Hongkongers understand our predicament and are willing to assist us in our hour of need.


Fundraise for basic needs at RU

Unique services offered by the Refugee Union

Mar 26th, 2021 | Refugee Community, RU updates, programs, events | Comment

These are the unique services Refugee Union provides to its members and Hong Kong residents:

  1. We offer refugees accurate information on seeking asylum and practical guidance on surviving day-to-day despite the 99% immigration rejection rate and insufficient welfare assistance;
  2. We provide a welcoming “community centre” where refugees share experiences, support and learn from each other without being judged, observed or otherwise influenced;
  3. We receive donations from residents, schools and universities, companies and restaurants as well as NGOs that fill gaps in the government assistance that does not include clothes, shoes, sufficient food, baby products, telecom equipment and toiletries (i.e.. shaving cream and pads);
  4. We are a “home away from home” where refugees freely hang-out and enjoy some comfort away from the small, subdivided often windowless rooms that we rent and often share with others;
  5. We are a collection, sorting and storage location for donation drives which are often voluminous and cannot be delivered to individual homes. Here we collect what we need, when we need it;
  6. We are a place for residents and volunteers to connect directly with refugees, learn first hand about the challenges of seeking asylum and explore ways to support our society and community;
  7. After the pandemic, we will resume weekly classes that enhance our lives, such as: Cantonese, English, homework support, arts and crafts, breastfeeding as well as programs offered by other organizations and volunteers;
  8. At the new centre, we will expand food services with a canteen where refugees can have a meal before collecting donations or after attending classes;
  9. At the new centre, we will create a “marketplace” to sell donations we do not need but have value, such as small items like lamps, car seats, decorative items, books and toys;
  10. At the new centre, we can manage corporate donations from food distributors, baby and health products wholesalers and restaurants which we currently cannot manage;
Unique services offered by RU

Crowdfunding campaign for a new centre

Mar 18th, 2021 | RU updates, programs, events | Comment

Refugee Union is the only registered refugee-led society in Hong Kong. We have 1000+ members from 30 countries, including 200+ babies and children. Our services are limited by the donations we receive. We are entirely dependent on residents’ support as we are prohibited from working under threat of 15 months in prison. Our society receives no government, institutional or corporate support. The government provides us with HK$ 3200 for rent, food, utilities and transport monthly.

Since 2014 we enjoyed a free office space in Sai Ying Pun which many of you visited. Then Covid-19 struck and our fortune changed! 

Soon we will be homeless, so we humbly seek your financial assistance to secure a warehouse in Lai Chi Kok with a budget of HK$ 10,000 a month.
Crowdfunding campaign - 18Mar2021

Drink For Justice – 17 April 2021 @Bella Lee

Mar 18th, 2021 | RU updates, programs, events | Comment

Let’s overcome social and ethnic divides! Join us to make new friends and promote genuine solidarity while drinking for justice
After a long and unfortunate hiatus, Drink For Justice returns to celebrate a joyful get together
Meet us for an evening of laughs, music, games and a free-flow of wine, beer and special cocktails! Let’s overcome social and ethnic divides, make new friends and promote genuine solidarity one drink at the time
Bring your friends and join us to the most meaningful free-flow event in town. Proceeds will go towards supporting the Refugee Union move to a new Community Centre
DFJ Event at Bella Lee - 17Apr2021

We are most grateful to our charity partners

Mar 13th, 2021 | Food, Health, RU Opinion, RU updates, programs, events | Comment

We are grateful to our charity partners for the awesome support offered to our members who struggle below the poverty line with insufficient welfare and no right to work
We could not provide our service to refugees without your assistance – Thank you
The Amber Foundation
Hands on Hong Kong
Grassroots Future
Bliss & Bless 
The Zubin Foundation
Crafty Charity Shop
Sunshine Action
Feeding Hong Kong
Soap Cycling 
… and more!
Thanking charity partners

My family needs your help

Feb 24th, 2021 | Advocacy, Personal Experiences, Refugee Community, RU updates, programs, events, Welfare | Comment

“When the choice of escaping to Hong Kong came along, it seemed like a dream” recalls Sharon. But several years later she is bitterly disappointed. The mother fled her country due to unspeakable violence suffered by one of her children. A professional, but also a widow, the authorities failed to protect her from powerful abusers determined to shut her mouth – one way or another.
Over the past years Sharon learned that asylum protection in Hong Kong is granted to less than 1% of claimants, the few who meet unrealistically high standards of proof. But the ways of the world are complex and its wicked currents sweep away many unable to document their plunge.
With an inhumane pincer movement, HK government oppresses refugees with insufficient welfare as well as stiff jail terms with the stated goal of “avoiding a magnet effect” as if slapping every student in class will prevent scoundrels from joining! Frankly that turns refugees into beggars. We don’t have enough money for rent and food. We are provide no clothes, shoes, hygiene products (shaving cream, sanitary pads and diapers for example), glasses, household items and phones. We are given one roll of toilet paper a month…
We need your help not because we are unfit to make a living or lazy, but because we sought asylum in #hongkong and are condemned to live in poverty with one hand tied behind our back.
We have been unable to open a society’s bank account, so donations are channeled through “Drink For Justice”, a registered charity that disburses financial aid to refugee families.
You donation will make a tangible difference in our life. You are welcome to visit our centre to learn more and perhaps sponsor a refugee family to learn what is needed and how money is spent.
Please WhatsApp 98287176 and share with your friends. Thank you
My family needs your help 1

We are not allowed to work

Jan 21st, 2021 | Advocacy, Refugee Community, RU updates, programs, events, Welfare | Comment

We, asylum-seekers and refugees in Hong Kong, are officially called “claimants” according to the Immigration Department’s Unified Screening Mechanism (USM) implemented to assess asylum claims in the city. All asylum-seekers are banned from working under Section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance. 

However, substantiated claimants (i.e. recognized refugees) may apply for a temporary six-month work permit issued upon the discretion of the Immigration Department. This applies to very few refugees as only 272 cases were substantiated (i.e. recognized) by the Immigration Department among 24,447 USM claims determined between 2009 and September 2021. The mathematical success rate is: 1.11%

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 a big lie because there is no provision for clothes, shoes, haircuts, SIM cards, shaving cream, lady products, baby products, cleaning products or toilet paper – items reasonably considered essential.

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. The Refugee Union helps us with its limited resources. It is the only group 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.

Please click this link to donate:

This Press Release states the government position: “The Government implemented the Unified Screening Mechanism (USM) in March 2014 to screen non-refoulement claims on all applicable grounds in one go. The United Nations’ Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol have never applied to Hong Kong, and hence illegal immigrants seeking non-refoulement in Hong Kong will not be treated as “asylum seekers” or “refugees”. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government maintains a firm policy of not granting asylum and not determining or recognising refugee status of any person. Regardless of the outcome of their torture/non-refoulement claims, claimants are not permitted to remain legally in Hong Kong. If their claims are rejected, the Immigration Department (ImmD) will accordingly remove them to their countries of origin.” (20 May 2020)

Immigration data was collected from:

Project: Refugee Connect

Dec 22nd, 2020 | Refugee Community, RU updates, programs, events | Comment

Refugee Connect is a student project led by Sophia Zhang at ESF Sha Tin College. Our mission is to empower refugees and asylum seekers, particularly women. We aim to help them connect with families, society and most importantly, themselves. By law, refugees cannot work – therefore, they rely on the meagre government aid of $3200 a month to survive. This not only prevents them from accessing many essential resources in Hong Kong, but it also strips away an important aspect of their humanity – dignity. 
To alleviate this, Refugee Connect launched Project Link by Link (in partnership with the Refugee Union), a jewellery and crafts workshop for refugee women to help channel their creativity and regain their dignity with something they made with their own two hands. After a series of workshops, the end products are the handmade accessories, crafted with love and laughter, displayed in the order form below:
By purchasing these handmade products, you are supporting these refugee women and making a positive change in their lives. All proceeds will be donated back to our refugee participants to help them buy mobile data cards and other essentials, something that they often do not have access to due to lack of disposable income. This will help them stay ‘connected’ with their families back in their home countries, as well as with Hong Kong society in general. 
Please visit our website:
You can also donate to our cause here:
Follow us on Instagram @refugeeconnecthk
Thank you for your support!
Refugee Conect 1
Refugee Connect 2

Hong Kong Refugee Sharing

Aug 25th, 2020 | Personal Experiences, Refugee Community, RU updates, programs, events | Comment

Hong Kong Refugee Sharing - 25Aug2020