Blog

Keep Refugee Union’s Center Running

Jun 1st, 2022 | Advocacy | Comment

June 20 is World Refugee Day. We ask that you support refugees by supporting our campaign for Refugee Union’s Center.

Refugee Union is the first self-organized group in Hong Kong where refugees help refugees.  

We were registered as a society in 2014 to connect with Hong Kong residents and the community at large. We are comprised of over 2000 members from dozens of countries, including around 200 children. We mainly support families as they are the most vulnerable and in need of timely assistance.  

The Government provides a monthly welfare support of: $1500 for rent; $1200 for food; $300 for utilities and $200 for transport allowance to attend official appointments. This package remains unchanged since 2014 despite inflation rate.  

No support is provided for clothes, shoes, home fittings, cooking equipment, cleaning materials, medicines and phone re-charge. To find out more: https://refugeeunion.org/support/  

We therefore plead for your financial support to rent the centre for a second year so we may be able to continue serving our community. The survival of the centre and our services rely on donations that we receive. 

“Visiting the Refugee Union centre in Sheung Wan yesterday was both uplifting and humbling. The wonderful people there exuded joy, happiness, appreciation and kindness. We were inspired to support and help them on their life’s journey.”  ~Andrew

We have been in operation at this centre since July 2021 and have welcomed hundreds of visitors, including volunteers and donors. It is here that our volunteers and members are able to interact, connect and aid in providing this community with essential donations. We are fortunate to receive regular deliveries of rice, bread, milk, canned food and fresh vegetables which we distribute to the families most in need. 

“I hope you are well. I did a drop-off of some food a few weeks ago and your staff were extremely friendly and thankful. It’s a lovely environment there. Thank you for what you are doing.” ~Janice

We pay $11,000 a month to rent this small space which has become the heart of our community. For some refugees, it is the most important place in town where they can meet friends and let their children play whilst receiving services. Over 1000 refugee families and their children visit every month and, thanks to your generous support, seldom leave empty handed! 

“We have worked with Refugee Union on several occasions in the past few years. My own family has experienced the difficulties of being a refugee, so the work RU does is even more special to me. I hope you can continue working and helping all of these people in need.” ~Alisha 

We welcome anyone in the community to visit our centre and learn about our predicament firsthand.

We are also grateful for the support and partnership with Drink for Justice whose monthly event supports our fundraiser for the rental payment of the centre. Please support and help us spread the word to not only raise funds for the rent but to raise awareness! We believe that together, we are stronger

Click to donate > https://go.sparkraise.com/keep-refugee-unions-center-running

 

APRIL ROUNDUP 四月回顧

Apr 30th, 2022 | Monthly Roundup | Comment

The recent outbreak in Hong Kong is coming to an end following a significant decrease in local infection cases. We all cannot wait to resume social activities. At the same time, this April is also a milestone to our organisation. To better engage with the local community we start to provide a Chinese version for our social media posts. This article reviews the activities that happened at our centre in the past month.

隨著新冠病毒的感染人數顯著下降,本港第五波疫情漸見曙光。大家都期盼早日回復正常的社交生活。對本會而言,本月同是一個里程碑。為更深入與本地社群互動,本會將為社交媒體發佈的資訊提供中文版本。本文回顧過去一個月本會曾舉辦的活動。

About Us 關於我們

The Refugee Union was founded in 2014 and is the first refugee-led organisation in Hong Kong. Our centre is currently based in Sheung Wan. We work with visions to safeguard refugee rights and to improve the status quo of asylum seekers and refugees in Hong Kong.

難民聯會 (Refugee Union) 於2014年成立,為本港首個由尋求庇護者和難民自發組織和營運的團體。本會的會址現位於上環。自成立以來,本會一直致力於保障難民權益和改善本港尋求庇護者和難民的待遇。

Emergency Food Drive 緊急糧食儲備

Government offices and supporting organisations are closed during the lockdown. The refugee community has nowhere to seek help. Necessities went into shortage and prices went high as a result of panic buying. But for asylum seekers, they are prohibited from working and are solely reliant on HK$40 (US$5) a day to survive. The pandemic has further worsened their situation.

In view of this, we have initiated a fundraising campaign online. It is our hope to gather community resources and redistribute to asylum seekers and refugees who are in need. Kindly show your support for our Emergency Food Drive.

本港第五波疫症爆發期間,公共醫療服務幾近癱瘓。社區出現恐慌性消費,令糧食和生活必需品價格上漲,甚至陷入短缺。本港的難民群體成為被遺忘的一群,未有獲得適切的協助之餘,亦求助無門。

尋求庇護者不獲准在港工作,僅以每天約HK$40的津貼過活。疫情在社區造成的影響對他們而言可謂雪上加霜。有見及此,本會發起了一項線上眾籌,希望匯集社區資源支援本港難民社群。本會懇請各位善心人士慷慨解囊,助難民群體度過難關。

Abolish the Food Card System 廢除糧食卡制度

We have also initiated an online petition calling for abolishing the refugee food card system. Asylum seekers are only allowed 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 HK$40 a day 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.

本會早前亦草擬了一封呈請書,呼籲特區政府廢除針對尋求庇護者的糧食卡制度。現時本港的尋求庇護者僅以每月HK$1,200 (相當於每日HK$40) 額度的糧食卡於百佳超級市場購買糧食和生活必需品。特區政府自八年前實施糧食卡制度以來從未檢視該政策的成效。實際上,本港生活成本高昂,糧食卡的額度早已追不上通脹。另一方面,有關尋求庇護者僅能於百佳超級市場購物的限制亦剝奪了他們以更相宜的價格購買糧食和生活必需品的機會。

本會懇請特區政府廢除針對尋求庇護者的糧食卡制度,並檢視現行尋求庇護者每月獲發津貼的金額。本會現誠邀各位聯署支持,以改善本港尋求庇護者和難民的待遇。

Giving is a Blessing 施比受更有福

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 asylum seekers and refugees who are in need.

本會於過去一個月獲善心人士捐贈大量物資。本會衷心感謝各位的慷慨解囊,並已將收集到的物資全數送到尋求庇護者和難民家庭手中。

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 info@refugeeunion.org or by visiting our centre during office hours (Mondays to Saturdays, 10am-6pm).

請繼續關注本會的官方網站和社交媒體專頁 (FacebookInstagramTwitter) 以獲取本會發佈的最新資訊。亦歡迎各位以電郵 (info@refugeeunion.org) 形式聯絡本會或親臨到訪 (辦公時間:星期一至六 上午10時至下午6時)。

Deserving or undeserving refugees?

Apr 13th, 2022 | Advocacy | Comment

The war in Ukraine should make us reflect upon deep-seated biases held about “deserving” and “undeserving” refugees. Digging below the superficial justifications one might discover racism. The right to seek asylum is indeed universal 🤔
 
It doesn’t matter where you are from. It doesn’t matter what gender or colour you are. It doesn’t matter what job you had. Everyone has the right to seek asylum in another country if he/she believes that returning home is dangerous 🌏
 
We are thankful for the hundreds of supporters who get this and we are saddened by critics who believe we should welcome certain “deserving” refugees and turn away “undeserving” ones. If only they could walk in those shoes 👟
 
 
 

MARCH ROUNDUP

Mar 30th, 2022 | Advocacy | Comment

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.

About us

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 info@refugeeunion.org 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.

Notice for Canadians in Hong Kong

Mar 26th, 2022 | Advocacy | Comment

Thank you “Canada in Hong Kong” for putting out a word of support for the Refugee Union. We are honored to be listed alongside such wonderful organizations as Feeding Hong Kong and 香港仁人家園 Habitat for Humanity Hong Kong 🙇
 
Our crowdfunding program helps to buy rice, milk and other stables in bulk to counter food insecurity in the refugee community. The government assistance falls short of basic human needs, so we are grateful for your help: https://bit.ly/3qYFq5u
 
If you have questions, please WhatsApp 9828 7176
 

A thanksgiving to our generous donors

Mar 21st, 2022 | Advocacy | Comment

“We stand by you!” wrote one of 269 donors who supported our ongoing crowdfunding program. Dearest donors, you demonstrate support daily with your generous donations. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! You give us hope and strength when we need it most! 😊
 
Every donation is precious and every donor is truly honored as part of our community. Indeed some of you are family because you have shown your love and dedication through the years. You are special 🤩
 
Words cannot express our gratitude as we appreciate that behind every donation there is true sacrifice and often a collective effort of a group working hard to raise awareness and gather what we need 🙏
 
We cannot mention you one by one, but for the “sweetness factor” alone the Dough Nation Club stands out. Jeanine is a remarkable year 10 student who raised $8000 … selling cookies 🍪 https://www.doughnation.club/
 
Stay blessed one and all 😇
 
* Photos by our super talented Karling at So Lightly

HKFP – Panic buying leaves Hong Kong’s refugees with little to eat

Mar 4th, 2022 | Advocacy | Comment

SCMP – Refugees in Hong Kong struggle to buy supplies as panic buying over lockdown rumours sweeps food off shelves

Mar 4th, 2022 | Advocacy | Comment

Abolish refugee food cards in Hong Kong

Mar 2nd, 2022 | Advocacy | Comment

 

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

 

Refugees fight hunger with donations

Mar 1st, 2022 | Advocacy | Comment

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

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