Blog

Living at society’s margins and below the poverty line

Feb 24th, 2017 | Media, Refugee Community, Rejection, Welfare | Comment

Tables of two cities - living at society's margins - 22Feb2017

How the No-Work Policy affects the livelihood of Refugees

Feb 19th, 2017 | Food, Media, Rejection, Welfare | Comment

How the No-Work Policy affects the livelihood of Refugees - 19Feb2017

Lawyers to help refugees who sheltered Snowden in Hong Kong

Dec 21st, 2016 | Advocacy, Media, Refugee Community, Rejection | Comment

Aljazeera - Lawyers to help refugees who sheltered Snowden in Hong Kong - 19Dec2016

Video also available here:

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsF2EYBcmGA

More news can be found here:

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Montreal lawyers urge Ottawa to help asylum-seekers who housed Snowden

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST: Canada’s government urged to take in Hong Kong asylum seekers who sheltered Edward Snowden

NEXTSHARK: Three Families Who Housed Edward Snowden in Hong Kong Seek Asylum in Canada

AQAADI: Montreal lawyers urge Ottawa to help asylum-seekers who housed Snowden

AUDIOBOOM: Edward Snowden got out of Hong Kong by hiding in the one place the government would never think to look

RFI: 律師呼籲加拿大接收在香港藏匿斯諾登的人 

SWD arbitrarily violates fundamental human rights of refugees

Dec 7th, 2016 | Advocacy, Food, Government, Housing, Immigration, Rejection, VF Opinion, Welfare | Comment

The Refugee Union published the Social Welfare Department reply to a petition requesting the urgent increase in welfare last enhanced in January 2014. Regrettably, the SWD informs that there are no plans to adjust welfare to interim inflation and skyrocketing rents after three years.

The SWD alleges that the assistance meets basic needs with 1500$ in monthly rent, 40$ a day for groceries and 200$ transportation, with zero provision for clothes, shoes, shaving cream, household detergents, reading glasses, haircuts, mattresses, blankets, cooking and kitchen ware, furniture, diapers, school supplies and transportation, credit for phones, dental service etc. The SWD also maintains that refugees require a single roll of toilet paper per month.

Magnet Effect and Mathematics

Vision First believe there is little substance in the justification that refugees should be denied anything more than a very basic assistance “so as to avoid a magnet effect.” As there is no evidence of any such “Magnet Effect”, it appears this claim is a wholly speculative allegation. Indeed, the Security Bureau and SWD in their own paper issued to the Legislative Council on 8 June 2015 admitted that they have a duty to meet the basic needs of refugees in full. Thus, the Magnet Effect would only apply to extra assistance, above and beyond meeting basic needs. 

“The Social Welfare Department (SWD) is charged with the responsibility to provide the assistance programme through non-governmental organisations (NGOs) since April 2006. The objective of the assistance programme is to ensure that non-refoulement claimants will not, during their presence in Hong Kong, become destitute. The assistance programme is not intended to provide them with extra assistance than is necessary to meet their basic needs, so as to avoid any magnet effect which may have serious implications on the sustainability of the assistance programme and on our immigration control.”

In reality, the stringency of immigration controls has not correlation with the well-being of refugees who already sought the protection of Hong Kong Government. The Immigration Department may learn from the past, but the SWD should not raise border integrity as an excuse to oppress local refugees. Further, numbers have raised manifold since aid started in 2006, suggesting that welfare is not the reason why refugees travel here. Denying adequate levels of welfare is just a policy to oppress refugees in order to encourage constructive refoulement. After six months’ of deliberation the SWD confirms that:-

“The Government considers that the current provisions are sufficient to meet the basic needs of service users and has no plan to change the arrangement at this stage.”

However, the Refugee Union’s petition reports that welfare fail to meet the basic needs of virtually all refugees. Almost without exception the assistance by SWD and ISS-HK falls short of rental amounts, utilities, food and travel money, besides lacking the above necessities. In this regard, the suggestion that refugees in need of more assistance should provide justification to ISS-HK is frankly nonsense, as the assistance requested is to meet basic needs, and not to get something above and beyond the costs of such needs.

ISS-HK caseworkers treat requests for such basic assistance with typical rejection. Refugees are actually not asking for more assistance above and beyond meeting their basic needs. They are instead asking ISS-HK and the SWD for full assistance in order to meet basic needs – the difference is crucial. There is even greater fallacy in the advice to seek assistance from ISS-HK to locate suitable rooms because the price of subdivided, cubicle and coffin rooms is close to double the rental allowance. Thus 10,000 refugees evidently “have difficulty in so doing” and caseworkers stand powerless before landlords, despite non-binding promissory letters from rent guarantors, local or overseas. Obviously landlords deem such letters non-bankable. Finally, while it is correct that tenancy agreements reflect the terms and conditions agreed between tenants and landlords, it is wholly unreasonable to expect destitute refugees without the right to work to “ensure he fulfills the responsibilities thereunder”. 

Legitimate Expectation

Vision First notes that under Hong Kong law and their own public statements, the Security Bureau and SWD have obligations to meet all basic needs of all refugees in Hong Kong. That is a legitimate expectation the refugee community relies upon. There are no exceptions under the law. It is disturbing that the conduct of these departments’ violates refugees’ rights by putting them at real and immediate risk. The Security Bureau and SWD have failed in their fiduciary duty towards destitute and highly vulnerable refugees.

SWD representations are false

The SWD’s reply to the Refugee Union’s reasonable demands is a false representation to refugees and the public that SWD meets the basic needs of protection claimants. In fact, the SWD arbitrarily violates the fundamental human rights of the vast majority of refugees in Hong Kong.

In our view, this conduct is unconscionable and unlawful as the SWD stubbornly refuses to meet refugees’ basic needs and further states that it will not review the current unsatisfactory levels of assistance. The next step will be a legal challenge. 

SWD reply to RU petition - 7Dec2016

所謂「假難民」問題,其實源自香港政府

Dec 7th, 2016 | Housing, Immigration, Media, Racism, Rejection, Welfare | Comment

Newslens - on fake refugees and ISS - 7Nov2016

Junk news trumps official figures in LegCo refugee policy debate

Dec 4th, 2016 | Immigration, Media, Racism, Rejection | Comment

HKFP - Junk news trumps official figures in LegCo refugee policy debate - 4Dec2016

Finding a different narrative in Hong Kong

Dec 4th, 2016 | Food, Housing, Immigration, Media, Racism, Rejection, Welfare | Comment

Finding a different narrative in Hong Kong

Families who sheltered Edward Snowden in Hong Kong say NSA whistleblower ‘gave them hope’

Dec 4th, 2016 | Media, Rejection, Welfare | Comment

SCMP - Families who sheltered Edward Snowden in Hong Kong say NSA whistleblower ‘gave them hope’ - 3Dec2016

 

More news at the following links:

APPLE DAILY: 匿港期間獲義助 斯諾登為難民發聲 斥港府違人權

APPLE DAILY: 接濟者讓出僅有床位

JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT on FACEBOOK

Social worker decries ‘narrow nationalism’ and fake refugee scares

Dec 3rd, 2016 | Media, Racism, Rejection | Comment

HKFP - Social worker decries fake refugee scare - 3Dec2016

Liberals demand detention for asylum-seekers

Dec 3rd, 2016 | Media, Racism, Rejection | Comment

Standard - Liberals demand detention of asylum-seekers - 2Dec2016

Page 1 of 1312345...10...Last »

Archive