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 email@example.com 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.
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. (https://bit.ly/2PJ8zDp)
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. (https://bit.ly/3egREBH)
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. (https://bit.ly/336OwBX)
We plead for your financial support to:
- Pay transportation fees to collect donations at our centre;
- Pay for emergency shelter when members are occasionally homeless;
- Purchase diapers and baby milk formula (donations are limited, i.e. only stage 3 formula);
- Purchase food staples like rice, milk and canned food to supplement diets;
- Pay for school supplies and costs not covered by the Education Bureau;
- Supplement rent and electricity for families who do not receive enough assistance;
- Purchase rice-cookers and portable gas stoves not supplied by the government;
- Buy clothes and shoes required by members who need specific sizes;
- Purchase surgical masks and sanitizers necessary under the pandemic.
- 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.
SHAREABLE LINK: https://go.sparkraise.com/
These are the unique services Refugee Union provides to its members and Hong Kong residents:
- 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;
- We provide a welcoming “community centre” where refugees share experiences, support and learn from each other without being judged, observed or otherwise influenced;
- 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);
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- At the new centre, we can manage corporate donations from food distributors, baby and health products wholesalers and restaurants which we currently cannot manage;
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.
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: https://bit.ly/3qYFq5u
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: https://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/facts/enforcement.html