My name is Ferdinand and I come from West Africa. I arrived in Hong Kong ten years ago, in 2004. I fled my country for political reasons, because my life was in serious danger. I ended up in Hong Kong after escaping to China where we have free visa entry. I had to find safe grounds to save my life.
Life in Hong Kong has not been the best for the past decade. It takes a strong man (or woman) to withstand the situation that refugees suffer in this cold city that doesn’t treat refugees with kindness or respect. Back in 2004 there was no welfare assistance, so most of us slept in the open at the Star Ferry Pier in TST, the only place we felt kind of safe. Most of us rummaged in garbage bins to find something to eat. We had no choice.
After being under the protection of the UNHCR for some years, I was advised to surrender to the Immigration Department which ended me up in detention for one month. When they released me from CIC Detention I was told that they would call me back for interview. I had many interviews over the years, first at Immigration offices in Central, then Shatin, then Kowloon Bay.
After ten years I received their decision – my verdict was “REJECTED!”
Do you know what it feels like to wait to hear from somebody for a decade and finally they mercilessly tell you, “Sorry your case isn’t accepted!” After all the pain and suffering of struggling to survive without dignity and work for ten long years?
Can Hong Kong Government give me back ten years it wasted to assess my case?
At an Immigration hearing a judge said to my Immigration officer, “Don’t go to sleep on this case, because you need to call him and do his case” I wanted to ask the judge, “Do you know how long I have been in Hong Kong?” when he hesitantly said, “Mister, you have to wait again.”
Wait for what, I don’t know, but I have to wait again which is very disappointing for me . Through this decade I am the helpless victim of government disorganization. When I arrived in 2004 there was the Torture Mechanism and UNHCR, then Enhanced Torture Mechanism, then CIDTP, and from 3 March 2014 they changed to Unified Screening Mechanism (USM). Hopefully it is the last one!
What is unacceptable is that what I told them for ten years, that was happening in my country, they didn’t want to listen or believe me. But the same evil atrocities are happening today in my homeland and it’s documented by the international media. How can Immigration say this is not happening and it did not happen to me?
Immigration is just burying their heads in the sand. Maybe over ten years they protect me, but why did they make me live like an animal for all these years? What is protection worth if after so many years you lose your sanity and trust in the people who should help you?
All I can show for one third of my life is that Hong Kong sheltered and fed me like a farm animal while Immigration pondered my future for 4000 days! What took so long? What were they doing? Why didn’t they reject my case in a few months, when my passport was valid, so that I could seek asylum elsewhere? Is it fair how the Immigration treats refugees in Hong Kong?
They call it humanitarian service. They give us 1500$ to rent a room when rooms cost more than 2000$. They give us 1200$ in food a month, but everyone knows refugees are getting ripped off and the real value is much less. Some months I get about 600$ from the shops that get rich at our expense. How are we expected to live like this for ten years without working?