UNHCR Hong Kong is a donation black hole

Post Date: Feb 19th, 2012 | Categories: Advocacy | COMMENT

Version Française:  Lettre Ouverte au HCR – 19 Feb 2012 
English Version:      Open letter to UNHCR 19Feb2012
Chinese Version:     Open letter to UNHCR 19Feb2012 – Chinese

Open Letter to the UNHCR Sub-Office at Hong Kong SAR: 

Attn. Mr. Choosin Ngaotheppitak (Head of Sub-Office)

Dear Mr. Ngaotheppitak–

While we represent different organizations, our mandates are the same: to protect some of the most powerless and abused people on Earth – refugees. As a representative of Vision First in Hong Kong, but also as one human being to another, I ask you to consider this letter with your full attention and care.

We find the recent UNHCR documents deeply disturbing. In particular, we draw your attention to the following article (http://visionfirstnow.org/2012/01/29/where-did-these-unhcr-millions-go/) published on our website, which details the substantial sums raised by UNHCR from Hong Kong residents and yet also details UNHCR’s stunning reductions to the day-to-day financial aid of refugees in Hong Kong. The many comments that follow this posting are mainly from the people directly affected by UNHCR’s painful cuts, the refugees themselves.

A second, also disturbing, report is available at http://www.unhcr.org/4df1d0449.html. It is entitled, “Contributions to UNHCR for Budget Year 2011 as at 31 December 2011” and offers updated and relevant information about the UNHCR global receipts of USD 2.1 BILLION.

With the above in mind, the question rises: How can UNHCR so drastically reduce its support for refugees in Hong Kong (by a staggering 80%!) at such a difficult time for refugees while the UNHCR global receipts are at such high levels?

More to the point, and please correct me if I am mistaken: is it not true that the High Commissioner for Refugees (to whom you answer) should be working for the 193 United Nations member states? Since China, including the Hong Kong SAR, is one of these member states it follows that UNHCR carries out its operations also on behalf of the citizens of Hong Kong. Consequently, we, the staff of Vision First, our volunteers, supporters and donors, who are citizens of Hong Kong, have both the right to ask questions and the legitimate expectation to receive answers from your office.

Further, as refugees in Hong Kong were told their allowance was cut by 80% due to budget constraints, it is vital for us to understand clearly what financial difficulties UNHCR is facing that would force it to make cuts in aid to those who need it most desperately. We trust you will answer the following questions:

1. UNHCR has a global budget of USD 2,132,351,419 (received 2011); what is the Hong Kong budget spent for the well being of refugees?
2. China contributed USD 250,000 to UNHCR but Private Donors in China contributed USD 3,468,084 – how much came from Hong Kong donors? We assume the majority, as refugee concerns are not known to be a high priority for wealthy Mainlanders.
3. This page (http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/page?page=49e488026&submit=GO) reports donations from HK Private Sector as USD 2,140,421 as at 19 September 2011 – what was the total figure for last year?
4. Why aren’t the “Private Donors in Hong Kong” listed separately in the 2.1 Billion reported above? Are they aggregated with the “Private Donors in China”?
5. What was the fundraising target for Hong Kong UNHCR in 2011? What total amount was raised? These are relevant questions as your staff told refugees their allowance was cut “because we [UNHCR] didn’t receive enough donations in Hong Kong due to the economic crisis”. Isn’t either USD 2.1 million (if we accept the lower figure) or up to USD 3.4 million enough?

The following comments reflect our experience of UNHCR staff as they relate to refugees here in daily encounters.
6. Many times needy refugees have been told by your staff that they should seek aid rather from Christian Action and Vision First. Why does this happen? Speaking for Vision First, we received about USD 150,000 in donations or about 5% of your collection. In other words UNHCR Hong Kong is 20 times larger than Vision First: with greater funding for refugees goes the greater responsibility and capacity to help them.
7. In our experience, often members of your staff have told refugees, “Go sleep in the street!” (and have made other unacceptable comments). Do you know this is common practice? Do these staff members really represent UNHCR’s spirit and practice of care in Hong Kong?

The three families (A, B and C) below are known to both UNHCR and Vision First.
8. Family A: why did you cut this family’s budget from HKD 5,500 to HKD 1,200 knowing they are bound to a tenancy agreement and risk being evicted now?
9. Family B: why did you cut this family’s budget from HKD 4,250 to 1,200 when they have rent, household expenses and three children’s education to support?
10. Family C: the same damage was inflicted on this family, whose support was dropped from HKD 5,250 to 1,200 with no concern for how they might survive. Replacing food for cash doesn’t work, particularly when the food is worth half the price and is not what these families eat customarily. Don’t you realize the cash is always used for more than food? What do you think will happen to these families?
11. Where do you think these families and dozens of other refugees are going for help? How can NGOs even start to fill in the new shortfalls that your cuts have now created?
12. Why did your staff say all refugees agreed to the food-not-cash change after the November and December (2011) meetings when everyone there protested strongly?
13. Why does your staff appear to spread this kind of misinformation to those it is mandated to serve?

The forced choice of food over cash…
14. What was the point of your staff telling refugees that they had a choice between food and cash when you forced them to take food and refused providing funds in any case?
15. Do you realize that refusing funds to penniless refugees, while giving them unwanted food, can force them into the difficult situation where many are compelled to sell the food at perhaps a quarter of its price to unscrupulous operators?
16. Do you realize that refusing funds to penniless refugees may compel them to break the law in desperation by seeking black market work to provide for their families? Do you realize that there may be legal ramifications here for UNHCR?

And, if the relevant funds have gone, where have they gone?
17. What cost-saving measures were attempted in your office before you ordered your staff to resort to this drastic and potentially dangerous policy of cost cuts?
18. Were there salary increases in your office this year?
19. What happened to the USD millions you raised in Hong Kong?
20. Please publish an audit if UNHCR has nothing to hide.

As we all have the same objective – although you pursue yours as a duty to the member states of the United Nations and we pursue ours voluntarily out of compassion – I urge you to address the above questions in good faith. I hope we can overcome the difficulties that, we feel, have prevented UNHCR from serving the refugees Hong Kong in accordance with its mandate.

Cosmo Beatson
Executive Director
Vision First



  1. Vision First Admin

    In the Open Letter’s question No. 2, we made the assumption that USD 3,468,084 listed in UNHCR Global Contribution as “Private Donors in China” was donated by Hong Kong citizens and organizations. The UNHCR provided proof our supposition was correct.
    Please open this link http://www.unhcr.org/4df1d08e9.html.
    The top of page two of this report clearly states: “Misc Donors Hong Kong-Spec Admin Region USD 3,468,084”. It’s fair to say, fundraising was nothing but a huge success for UNHCR last year!

    The facts now speak for themselves:
    UNHCR received a total of USD 2,675,867 in 2010
    UNHCR received a total of USD 3,468,084 in 2011 – up 29%

    In light of these facts, why were refugees deceived about the reasons behind the allowance cut?
    We have it from reliable witnesses that UNHCR staff justified the cut with: “there was a reduction in fundraising“, “it’s the consequence of financial crisis“, “Hong Kong people are not giving donations“, “we are out of budget“, etc. Surely there would have been an uproar had refugees been informed that 26,704,000 HKD were collect in 2011 to assist also them … BUT they would only receive 300 HKD a month in 2012. That’s following a 1/3 increase in donations! How does UNHCR justify the additional hardship caused to refugees? Did UNHCR give any thought to the anguish they are directly inflicting upon those they should protect?

  2. Just want to tell you to refuse any private invitation from UNHCR staff. If they have nothing to hide, then they have only one option which is to organize a PRESS CONFERENCE open to journalist and public, where they will present all their records and explain how they use the donations. We will come with witnesses and evidence. That’s all.

  3. I say UNHCR will face a lot of complaints inside and outside their office. They deserve this as they treated refugees with contempt and disrespect for too long. They should be taken to court for their behavior. They should lose their jobs. I encourage HKSAR to close this useless office and manage refugee determination and protection with fairness and compassion.

  4. veteran refugee

    Eight years ago CARITAS paid every refugee 2400 HKD every month. Really! It was 2400 dollars for every person! The money came from UNHCR Hong Kong and CARITAS was the implementing partner distributing it to refugees. Today ISS is the implementing partner and they give food donated by Hong Kong government. So that UNHCR does not pay for the food so they save much money every month! Today UNHCR give every refugee a bank check for 300$. On other hand refugee assistance cut from 2400 HKD to 300 HKD plus food in eight years. Is that right? Did rent and prices drop since 2004? What policy is this? My life was better in 2004. I ask one question: how much donations did UNHCR Hong Kong receive in 2004 when they help us more? I’m sure it was ten times LESS than today. Why UNHCR refuse to help refugees? Why UNHCR hate refugees?

  5. help please

    I am having 2 electric bill and water bill I cannot pay. ISS paying just small part. Not everything for me. My church also say no more money. The Final Notice from landlord write she cut electric and water tomorrow. Please help me! UNHCR Hong Kong cut my money from 1500 to 300 dollars. I ask them, but they don’t help me. Today I am very very desperate now. If landlord disconnect I cannot live in my room with no window. Please help me Vision First!

  6. Your question number 20 is spot on! IMO you didn’t express forcefully enough your demand for an external audit. One of the BIG Four could be invited to handle this considerable task. They would need to visit every single office and sub-office of UNHCR worldwide to prepare detailed income statements and balance sheet. Until the citizens of the world receive a comprehensive audit by a reputable accounting firm, why should they trust what UNHCR does? If I were in their shoes, I would initiate this process immediately to reestablish rapidly eroding credibility.
    [The Big Four are: Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, KPMG]

  7. Accountability is essential in any human endeavor. It should be paramount for anyone handling public money. You correctly write “with greater funding for refugees goes the greater responsibility and capacity to help them”, yet complacency has crept into the UNHCR Hong Kong’s un-monitored system. It is said that power corrupts and ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY. There’s no doubt which is the case at UNHCR. Thank you.

  8. Homeless tomorrow

    I’m a recognized refugee and I’m will lose my room this week. The landlord came last night. He banging on door. He wanted 500 dollars for January and 500 for February. The ISS money is maximum1200 but my room is 1700. Before I get 1500 every month and pay 500 for rent. Now I only get 300 from UNHCR Hong Kong and I need spend it for bus. What can I do? Who can help me? Why is UNHCR Hong Kong treat me like this? I’m not beggar. I am human being who beg to survive every day. Why UNHCR recognize me and abandon me? When accepted my case, they accepted duty too protect me because I cannot working here. Please help me or I will be homeless !!!

  9. ASR worker

    With eight years of experience working with refugees in Hong Kong, I have learnt one thing: UNHCR guiding principle is “Passing the bucket”. They are the experts at shirking their duty and calling others to feed, house, heal, guide and support “their” claimants and “their” refugees. Despite enjoying the biggest budget, they make the smallest contribution to this community. When refugees need shelter, they call the NGO. When refugees are hungry, they send them to the NGO. When refugees need clothes, shoes, glasses and more, they push them towards charities. When their clients need private doctors (Hospital Authority bookings are long), they call the charities for assistance. The same song and dance when they need dentists, counselors and psychologist. They love fancy descriptions and call this strategy: CAPACITY BUILDING! Right! Other people’s capacity built to reduce their work, responsibility and save their money! Stellar example of humanitarian work! We all wonder what exactly are they doing? How do they earn their salaries? Before reading your blogs, I honestly thought UNHCR struggled with funding and even had a large debt with HKSAR. Now I scratch my head in disbelief and wonder if there are typing mistake in those reports. It cannot be true that after raising 20,000,000 dollars, they PASS THE BUCKET TO NGO – that can’t be right! Maybe I should stop moaning and ask them for a job. I heard they pay well!

  10. refugee 1979

    Hi Vision First how are you doing? I hope everything is ok, i would like to let you know that I appreciate the help you give my family. The refugee life is very hard and without Vision First we are desperate. I was thinking about the great job you are doing. I really appreciate your work and this letter to UNHCR Hong Kong who don’t care how refugees suffer in Hong Kong. I stop asking them for anything as they are very useless. I pray to leave the Hong Kong hell as soon as possible. God bless Vision First.

  11. Hello Vision First! I just wanna congrats you for the strong letter that you published on the website. I think it is the last moments of UNHCR in Hong Kong to get satisfaction from their work. Now they will suffer the same as they made us suffer for many years. Thank you guys!

  12. Thank you

    Hi Vision First. Just to tell you my support for the great job you a doing. The news about UNHCR Hong Kong is all over the town. As we say in my country YOU HAVE GIVEN A KICK TO AN ANT HILL – thank you!

  13. The UNHCR Hong Kong is not untouchable. They know very well that the community is mobilizing and soon there will be too much reaction in the media for them to control. The fire is getting hotter every day

  14. All these people have been given power to serve others. They need to be accountable to the people. They have no right to keep secrets. The good things they do are called performance and you show others to help others to do go things butter. But the bad things must come out. Why are they hiding? Why do we have to accept that? You are paid to served the people, not to hide inside your diplomatic castle. The times they are changing.

  15. John Miller

    For some people the UNHCR is hope. They have hope in the UNHCR like God. They believe that it exists for the good of the people that they exist to care for the world. It is like a power in their mind that will save the bad things that happen in the world. That is why they have blind trust in them.m. It is like a phenomena that keeps then mesmerized. It is actually a dangerous phenomena because they don’t question it. They just accept it as a Power. They want to believe UNHCR Hong Kong is doing something good and they rely on this false hope to solve their problems. They don’t question this trust. They don’t try to find better ways to build the future and the result is that we waste time and we don’t find the right vision to solve these problems. Their vision of UNHCR is a false vision!

  16. One Mohammad

    We argue with them too much. We tell them that we cannot live without the cash. They said there is a financial crisis and there are no donations. They make us collect food from ISS, but before we could budget our 1500$ and spend 200$ every few days. We buy fresh food at the market. It was cheaper. I collected my ISS food yesterday. They only gave me rice and 3 small tomatoes, 2 small onions and 3 small potatoes for ten days eating!!! How many times can I cook with that? How many days will it last, even with the rice? It will last only two days. Then I must look for food outside. Also we have problem with electricity bill. It is 500$ for two months and ISS will only pay extra 50$ for each person = 250$. How do we pay the rest? We are not beggars, we are not thieves. We are real refugees and we hate the UNHCR how they treat us. Many refugees went to complain at the UNHCR Hong Kong and they said “You deal with it!” They didn’t want to listen. They said “The majority of refugees agreed!” But that is a lie as nobody agreed. The majority said nothing as we understand we have no choice! They control us like master and they make us live like beggars worst than in Somalia. But we cannot work and we have no donations. Why they dont give us the donations? They dont want to spend the money on refugees. What do they do with the money ???? God knows and God will handle them. Thank you.

  17. Cheung Qinming

    Your letter was wonderful. I’m thinking that us as Human Beings are looking for truth always, but when we find it we are disappointed. Exactly like with the case that is happening at UNHCR Hong Kong. They were created to care for human rights, but they are ignoring human rights. They are trying to cheat the most helpless and powerless people. How do people like this find the courage to go to work. They must be soulless. I sincerely apologize to the HK refugees who suffer unjustly in my city: Sorry!

  18. Refugee Helper

    We grow up admiring the United Nations, but it is nothing but a logo. It’s just like another brand. Like Coca-Cola and in true fact, just like Coca-Cola it is bad for you! The UNHCR Hong Kong uses the “good name” of its brand to draw in donors. These people easily sign large checks with the confidence the money will be well spent. They also believe that if many others, governments included, back them, then there is no need to worry and ask questions. But then what happens? After 60 years there are no Annual Reports. There is no audit trail. There is no proof of expenses. There is no salary list. All you are left with is more “scare tactics”: UNHCR warns about yet another regional crisis and makes another urgent appeal!!! They are just another dirty corporation, but unlike the commercial ones, they have diplomatic immunity and can scornfully flout the rules imposed on everyone else. Without transparency or accountability they build up their egos until they lose respect of both their donors (no reports) and their clients (no aid). When will this stop? There needs to be massive popular protest for any change to take place. Ultimately the UNHCR Hong Kong is only worried about their funding (i.e. contributions) so articles this put flaming heat under their seats. Times are changing. People worldwide are standing up to the huge corporations and demanding that bosses are accountable, demanding answers to questions that have lingered for years. People hate the GREED that drives corporation and now they understand it is the same GREED that motivates UNHCR. UNHCR Hong Kong cannot avoid this wave of change. As soon as the press bites this carrot, there will be serious consequences and … there will be UNHCR staff looking for new jobs, shamefully!

  19. Thank you Vision First. I’m a refugee also and after reading my brothers’ comments for a month, I want to say my word. If you want to work with asylum-seekers and refugees, for their survival in HK, you have to expect consequences. Your actions are correct, but those 20 questions are not from Vision First, they are from the 400 people that you support. They always ask you these questions and now the whole community wants to know the answers. When we stick together and 400 people voice their legitimate concern, the UNHCR Hong Kong cannot run away. They will have to face their responsibility and do their job. The problem is that if the UNHCR asks refugees if they support this cause, everyone will say “No!” because they are scared. When it comes to public complaints, the refugees will back down. We can only pray that Vision First will not give up as refugees have no power to change this situation ALONE.

  20. VF Supporter

    I want to know what the refugee community doing without the other 80% of their financial assistance?

  21. Sucker Punch

    Wow!!! Your article is a sucker punch for UNHCR Hong Kong! How can they deny these facts shown in their own documents and actions? It is no secret that United Nation agencies live off the blood of those they should serve. What is unacceptable is accusing HK people of not being generous! How can they say they didn’t get enough donations? This is horrendous!!! Why do they hide the truth and mislead refugees and NGO charities with these fabrications. I find this totally unacceptable and offensive. We should publish the names of who said this to shame them for besmerching the reputation of HK people. Let’s march against UNHCR and make them regret their actions. Please translate your article in Chinese and post online. We have many friends who can circulate deep in the community. This is a must. Call me for this help.

  22. Proud of VF

    We are proud of Vision First. You give us a home. You give us hope. You always fight our fights and stand shoulder to shoulder with us. Nobody compares to what you are doing for the refugee in HK. God bless your steps and guide VF to more success. We pray for you night and day. Thank you very much.

  23. Thank you Vision First. Yes, lot of things are wrong with UNHCR Hong Kong. To me, they hit the lowest point when they called those protested at the meeting and intimidated us. It was the same in Africa when security agents phone and threaten not to do something … OR ELSE !!! I couldn’t believe what happened, but it is true. One anonymous voice threatened to cancel my Refugee Status if I went to the journalists. That’s how friendly and understanding they are! What hypocrisy they have! What deep shame! And the same event happened to friends. They scare us as they have our life in their hand. They didn’t calculate that today these truths will coming out. The UNHCR Hong Kong is a tyrant bully who wants its way … OR ELSE !!! They take our donations. They take our human rights. They enjoy their good life on our suffering and don’t want the public to know these truths. Now it’s payback time !!!

  24. Wong Family

    We are deeply saddened by this article. Our family often supports refugees through donations of clothes and household items. We have met several at NGOs and understand they were once ordinary citizens who had the misfortune of crossing swords with criminal governments. We find it deeply disturbing that UNHCR Hong Kong does not publish an annual report/audit like other International charities. Why does HK government tacitly consent to this? Indeed, the greater the donations, the greater the need for honesty and transparency.

    Oxfam http://www.oxfam.org.hk/en/annualreport.aspx
    Red Cross http://www.redcross.org.hk/en/publications/annual_reports_detail.html?year=2011&id=1141
    Caritas http://www.caritas.org/includes/pdf/annualreport10.pdf
    Médecins Sans Frontières http://www.msf.org/shadomx/apps/fms/fmsdownload.cfm?file_uuid=C337F2F9-3E7C-48BD-88D5-74B14FB9AE83&siteName=msf
    Save the Children http://www.savethechildren.org/atf/cf/%7B9def2ebe-10ae-432c-9bd0-df91d2eba74a%7D/stc-annual-report-2009.pdf

  25. Peter Jensen

    Unfortunately UNHCR fails to care for refugees not only in Hongkong, but in many countries. Don’t forget they insistently backed the refugee swap between Malaysia and Australia. This had human rights activists up in arms, protesting vehemently until the courts agreed the plan was outright *illegal*. No more needs to be said. The fact UNHCR supported this dangerous plan – it could have cost the lives of many – is a caution they do not generally have the best interest of their beneficiaries in mind. Unless for “beneficiaries” we presuppose their high-level officers. I would like to draw readers’ attention to the mountain of bad press generated by Refugee Swap, which UNHCR never backed down from, nor apologized for. With this in mind, everyone is warned about their hidden agenda and lack of credibility

  26. VF Supporter

    For 7 years I have been involved with the refugee community in Hong Kong (HK) on many different levels. I have heard their stories of trauma, grief, struggle and pain. They arrive to HK with a glimpse of hope; hoping that they can start again, to take back a bit of their lives they had left behind. Unfortunately it’s not too long till asylum seekers and refugees realize that the system here in Hong Kong STINKS…its unfair, unjust and bloody disempowering.

    To hear that the UNHCR’s financial assistance to refugees was cut by 80%, when clearly there was no fair reason for doing so is an utter DISGRACE…. BUT what upsets me the most, actually it makes my stomach turn, was to hear that when this issue came to light, the staff at UNHCR HK personally called the people they serve and said- “DON’T SPEAK TO THE PRESS WITHOUT OUR CONSENT OR WE WILL CANCEL YOUR STATUS”

    You should be absolutely ashamed of yourselves and you certainly have a lot to answer for…GET TO WORK…WE ARE ALL WAITING !!!!!!!

  27. Gordon Mathews

    This article presents a damning portrait of the UNHCR. Can the UNHCR respond to this article? I would very much like to hear from them, as I’m sure many of those who have commented on this article would like to hear from them.

    I hope that the Chinese-language media in Hong Kong, as well as the SCMP, can take up this story–this is important!

  28. VF Supporter

    This is an excellent piece. Thank you for writing it! I just hope that you can attract some attention for it!

  29. Lamma Fairy

    This story is very strong. Really for the truth it is the first time I hear this about the UNHCR. I thought that they have a human heart but they are only doing business to collect money to put in their pocket. Now I see their real faces, but if you go there they talk that they will help refugees, but in fact they only pay themselves. It is unbelievable that you can collect millions and not even one third goes to refugees. Where did all the money go?

  30. NGO Auditor

    – How does UNHCR Hong Kong make sure that donations are properly spent?
    – What internal monitoring and evaluation procedures are followed?
    – What external monitoring and evaluation procedures are followed?
    – How does UNHCR deploy public appeal donations, i.e. Pakistan flooding?
    – Who constitutes UNHCR’s governance and executive committee?
    – What constitutes UNHCR administration cost?
    – What external audit arrangements are made? With whom?
    – When is the Annual Report available?
    – Where is the Annual Report published online?

  31. We recommend Hong Kong donors withhold donations to UNHCR Hong Kong until Mr. Ngaotheppitak demonstrates clear progress in making reforms, including but not limited to:
    – altering policy so that HK refugees are cared for at a basic accepted living standard;
    – establish objectives acceptable to HKSAR Immigration Dept. and Social Welfare Dept.;
    – enunciate the criteria by which success or failure of these objectives are measured;
    – initiate a comprehensive management audit to certify staff are of the highest caliber;
    – initiate a comprehensive financial audit to certify the highest audit practices;
    – restructure the office to eliminate mismanagement and achieve excellence.
    For more information please contact http://www.cato.org
    Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20001-5403

  32. Financial Times

    These problems are not new. In 1998 the Financial Times investigative report stated: “according to sources close to the organization and internal documents. . . the UNHCR is wasting millions of dollars donated by Western governments because of incompetent management, dubious accounting practices, and alleged fraud. In the accounting area, lack of transparency has concealed ‘‘25–30 percent in hidden administrative costs spent on and by workers in the field, with 50–60 percent of its $1 billion budget actually being spent on refugees compared with the 80 per cent it officially claims.’’ … no distinction is made between what is spent on refugees and what is spent on workers … No audit certificates were received, so it was impossible to know what money had been spent or how … UN budgets developed behind closed doors are shrouded in secrecy, that criteria for measuring program performance are inadequate, and that agencies often duplicate the work of one another.”

    Dear Vision First readers, does it sound familiar ????

  33. Boutros Boutros-Ghali

    I am the former Secretary General of the United Nations. I once said, and I must now repeat it “Perhaps half of the United Nations work force does nothing useful” http://www.cato.org/pubs/handbook/hb105-51.html
    Salary figures do not reflect the full disparity between UN and non-UN personnel costs, however. Salaries of UN diplomats are tax-free. Salaries of administrative staff include an “assessment” used to offset tax liability in most cases, so many of the staff salaries are tax-free as well. In addition, UN employees receive monthly rent subsidies of up to $3,800 and annual education grants of up to $12,675 per child. But such generous compensation does not translate into a productive workforce; former secretary-general Boutros-Ghali told the Washington Post that “perhaps half of the UN work force does nothing useful.” Widespread corruption is also a problem. Nearly $4 million in cash was stolen from UN offices in Mogadishu, Somalia. Other funds are not stolen outright but are spent for highly questionable purposes.

  34. Investigate Now

    Dear VF – Thank you for your remarkable service to refugees. Many citizens have followed your rapid development in the past three years and are impressed with what you have accomplished. More power to your people! The time has come to demand an urgent independent inquiry into UNHCR Hong Kong. They cannot milk the donors’ cow without executing their professional care towards local refugees. There needs to be a very serious look at the UNHCR Hong Kong and how it functions as their mistakes cost us more than tax-payer dollars. It is a well-known fact that UNHCR coffers are overflowing with millions that do not reach those they are pledged for. The question now asked is not, What are they doing with the money (they will not tell us!), but, Why does HKSAR let them get away with it? When will HKSAR investigate these malpractices? Who allows UNHCR to collect millions from HK people and run away with the money under our noses? It’s time for the fraudulent party to stop before more suffering is caused to refugee families!

  35. Midnimo reports similar events happening with UNHCR India http://www.midnimo.com/2011/12/11/87/
    “The Somali refugees are deeply against UNHCR corruption in New Delhi-India” The UNHCR used to give monthly payment to the neediest people of our community and recently they stop it. Those people were elders and widow women with children … There is a lot of people who face difficult situation’s and request from the UNHCR voluntarily repatriation to go back to their country and face persecution there. The UNHCR reply was we didn’t bring you to India so we can’t return you back … UNHCR tell us to be prepared to stay here for the coming 15 years without rights and assistance. How it is possible for us to survive in such kind of situation??? From Hong Kong to India the performance is the same: UNHCR spends millions on its staff and a few dollars on refugees. How long will the UNHCR business last?

  36. There is an African saying that “THE CLIMBER OF A LADDER WILL ONE DAY DESCEND”. In other words the arrogant person will one day be brought back down. The UNHCR Hong Kong is been brought down by its ambition. The UNHCR in Hong Kong wants to harvest where it did not sow. I wonder what UNHCR was thinking? I wonder how it’s going to hide such horror and for how long? Even our fore-fathers didn’t need to go to school to understanding that: “WHEN A PREGNANT WOMAN REACHES HER DUE DATE, THERE IS ONLY ONE RESULT”. And that is child birth. The UNHCR Hong Kong has no other option than to face what is coming their way, because it’s the consequences of their action. Hahahahahaa
    The way people are talking extremely negatively about UNHCR here in Hong kong cannot be only because they hate them. “THE FROG DOES NOT RUN IN DAY LIGHT FOR NOTHING”. Now we have seen it trough the many articles and documents circulating around town concerning the malpractices of UNHCR. We have seen some videos from some refugees who filmed their conversation with one of the staff of UNHCR Hong kong treating them very poorly. We have heard many audio recordings of these conversations that are absolutely shocking. This was done with a hidden camera in a pen and they are planing to send the video to the UNHCR head quarter in Geneva. “NEVER TELL THE MAN WHO IS CARING YOU THAT HE STINKS, BECAUSE HE MIGHT THROW YOU DOWN.” The UNHCR Hong Kong has told the refugees that they stink, so they shouldn’t cry when the refugees throw them down!!! This fight has only started and we will not stop until heads are rolling and UNHCR learns to put our needs ahead of their greed. Shame on UNHCR Hong Kong!

  37. Adding to all the unnecessary torture UNHCR Hong Kong imposes on refugees, as I have remarked lately, I wish to add this fact. When you ask UNHCR Hong Kong for protection, if you have a good academic background, there is at least 90% chances your case will be rejected. I believe this is because such educated people will not accept the rubbish they are doing to other people and they might surely react in a way that might expose them and their devilish deeds. But this time the UNHCR Hong kong has bitten more than they can chew. In fact it has bitten the hand that feeds it! Because no matter what, it’s due to the presence of refugees and asylum-seekers in HK that they have a job. If there were no asylum seekers and refugees here, UNHCR wouldn’t even exist. Their office would be closed and each and every employee would be looking for a new job. So normally they should pet and caress refugees in the direction their hair growth. Not the other way round. As goes an African saying : A DONKEY KNOWS NO GRATITUDE. and the donkey here is the staff of the UNHCR Hong Kong. Soon you will be looking for new grass to eat, so start preparing your CV!

  38. Thanks Mr. VisionLeak, you are just another Julian Asange! This is a good diplomatic Leak! Keep removing the sheep skin, let the World come face to face with the UNHCR WOLF !!!

  39. Held Accountable

    The HKSAR is too soft and too naive. When the UNHCR Hong Kong goes to them with their sleek professional style, telling them what the situation is like, asking for help (remember the Vietnamese Crisis?), the government easily believes them and signs a check to care for refugees. The government helps UNHCR a lot as they believe that the problem is in good hands. However, they are not being told the truth. Why doesn’t the Inland Revenue Department demand a full audit of income and expenses at UNHCR Hong Kong? Why doesn’t the government investigate them? Currently the UNHCR knows that HKSAR is not checking what they are doing, so they just do what they want. We respect HK Government and we believe they really help us in many ways, but they should know the UNHCR are not honest people. They are lying and cheating people who must be held accountable for their words and actions like everyone else in Hong Kong. This movement must continue until HKSAR inspectors visit Room 911 of Yau Ma Tei Carpark Building. Thank you.

  40. Webelieve

    Thank you for this great letter. I am sure it will cause a lot of shame and pain at the UNHCR Hong Kong office. We wish that something will happen soon to change their policies and attitude. For me as a refugee, when I lost my home, I had to sleep for two nights in McDonald’s and they did nothing to help me. When I was desperate I thought of finding a domestic helper to invite her to share my room and rent. This is something that happened with many guys. Once I had to stay two nights in a guesthouse when I was sick. I took the receipt to UNHCR Hong Kong and asked them to pay the 200$ for the room. But they refused to pay and even laughed at me. They expected me to sleep in the street when I had bronchitis! OK then find for me home, I don’t mind if I live in the mountains, in the villages, far away. Just help me to find a home as without a job I have no salary and cannot pay for deposit. I was living in the street and my case-officer smiled and laughed. He didn’t care. He didn’t want to care for my needs even though he is paid to protect me and they have millions of dollars. The want us to go to ISS and spend HK government’s money. What happened to all the donations? They only want to keep that money for their own pocket. We must demand justice! We must demand accountability!! We must demand an investigation!!! Thank you VF 🙂

  41. We need this article in Chinese to send it to many Chinese newspapers. There are paparazzi who will cover it like golden business. Look how many are following scandal-plagued chief executive hopeful Henry Tang Ying-yen! They will send photographers over to the UNHCR building and hound them down for answers. The next step is to bombard the Chinese Press with this information: Where did the 20,000,000 go????

  42. Wow! This is a revolution. I have worked at NGOs serving refugees for many years and never experienced anything like this! At last there is somebody who’s not afraid of the United Nations. Everyone else is so afraid to rock the boat, that no questions are asked and no challenges issued. There is a different mentality at Vision First. You guys are so cool I want to volunteer with you. Do you have any vacancies? Finally there is a HUNTER who’s not afraid of the Big Bad Wolf! Anyone for wolf hotpot la?!

  43. 123456 and counting

    That was really awesome. It shows how much transparency is still needed at these organizations. And indeed these people should give out a better account of these millions they receive. It’s really great. When i received your email i was WOW. For other organizations it’s only politics, they want to protect the status-quo, they want refugees to be hopeless, to beg from them, therefore they won’t push for changes. But it’s open at Vision First. You really have the ‘vision’ and you certainly put it ‘first’. And you are doing a good job. Just keep it up! Do you think the UNHCR will answer? Of course not! they will never answer and that is because they have everything to hide behind their slogan “We have 48,000,000 refugees to help in the world.” Great, let’s go ask everyone what they get and see if the total value is USD 2,132,351,419. Maybe it will be 132,351,419 paid in aid and 2,000,000,000 spent on salary, staff expenses and staff lifestyle. Way to go UNHCR! You sure have a great business model!

  44. I agree with the last post. I heard many people say recently that it is not worth fighting the UNHCR Hong Kong. They think that anyway they will continue doing what they want, what they have always done. But things are changing already. When you visit their office, you see a lot of angry faces. They ask what is Vision First doing. They told me to stop coming to your office. I heard an officer say that soon the press will pick up this news. They are afraid of being in the media. They are very afraid! Why are they afraid? Only guilty persons are afraid of the truth coming out. They were appointed to care and protect helpless refugees, not to line their pockets withe high salaries for a good life. Their job is humanitarian, but it doesn’t feel like they know it according to how they treat refugees. No wonder everyone wants to work for the United Nations. Their lifestyle is so fantastic that it’s one of the best jobs in the world. I also heard that UNHCR Hong Kong is calling Vision First to tell them to stop. I was in their office when Mr. Choosin secretary called and later Mr. RL called. But why do that? Do they have secrets to hide? Just answer the questions! This is only the beginning! Regards, MZ999

  45. There has never been a WAVE OF CHANGE like this in five years that I have been a refugee in HK. All the NGO are talking about Vision First’s action. Everywhere I go they are talking about this, from the Chung King Mansion cafes, to the mosque and to Immigration offices. At the other NGOs they are discussing the Vision First articles and the TRUTH you demand! On the one hand, they know these are valid questions, but on the other hand, they bend down so low before the United Nations that nobody would have dared confronting the UNHCR Hong Kong. I have spoken to several NGO people and their reaction is the same:
    – Why does Vision First do this to the UN?
    – What can they change?
    – What is the point of fighting a battle that cannot be won?
    – Why don’t they cooperate with the UN?
    It is other NGO impression that the United Nations are too big to accuse, that they have done what they do (i.e. operating without accountability) for so long that they will never be change. To the contrary, refugees thank you for voicing our concerns. Thank you for starting a wave of change that maybe will encourage UNHCR Hong Kong to listen to our voices too. Thank you for your courage and God bless you!

  46. Refugee XYZ

    We have a saying in my country “The truth is not afraid of passing through the fire”. I read with great interest this article and agree with the points you have raised. This is a question of accountability. I have been assisted by the UNHCR for most of my life and I have never seen an audit published anywhere. This cannot be right. There is much heat under the seat of UNHCR Hong Kong officers and we can see how uncomfortable they have become in the past two weeks. They are talking about Vision First and trying to know why you are accusing them. But these are questions that we have always wanted to ask, but could never voice because we are afraid of their reaction. Silence is not stupid and just because we say nothing does not mean that we don’t question their actions. We cannot complain to UNHCR Hong Kong as we know what happened to those who did – their files were immediately closed! We applaud Vision First for having the courage to step up and ask these 20 perfectly legitimate, beautiful questions. The logic is impeccable. You have put them in a position where EITHER they answer, OR we know they are hiding the truth from the world!!! Thank you Vision First for always being there for us.

  47. You exposed something that is true, that was hidden under the table. Something the community needs to know to take action against those who have forgotten their mission is to serve refugees, honestly and with full transparency. People want to know what is going on inside UNHCR Hong Kong. It is not a private club. It is an international public body that must be supervised by HKSAR or closed down!

  48. Cosmo, thank you for your work at Vision First. I think a copy of the UNHCR audit is absolutely necessary given the points you make. Wishing you all the best achieving some resolution to this scandalous situation.

  49. Recognized Somali Refugee

    Everyone knows what the UNHCR Hong Kong are doing. The system is not fair. Some people are called immediately and do their interviews. Others wait for years. The excuses are always the same and we have stopped believing them. If they have money why don’t they spend it to get better organized? They say “there are millions of refugees in the world who don’t have enough to eat” – the old excuse – but look at the camps in Kenya were people die every day for lack of food. They tell HK that these camps need millions and millions of dollars to run, but they don’t tell you how much Kenya and the African Union is helping, that the African staff get a few dollars a week. Do the 2.1 billion dollars all go to the camps? Liars! Liars! Liars! What percentage is spent there? What percentage goes to organization and salary? It is very simple. UNHCR must prove what they are doing. They are not a private company. They must not profit on our skin, while we struggle to survive. Stop hiding behind protective glass and security people. Come and see how we live. Come and share our lunch. Come have dinner with us with the bad food you arranged for us, which we cannot even keep in fridges because we don’t heave them. Just make an audit and show the world what you are doing with all the billions. Hiding behind excuses there are millions of people in need, does not explain what each UNHCR office is doing with their budget. We are uneducated people for the simple reason we had no schools, but we are not stupid. UNHCR Hong Kong raises donations in our name and what do they give us … 300 HKD a month!

    They hate Vision First for pointing the public finger at them. However we refugees have read nothing new on this website, because these are the problems we talk about every day, year after year, hoping for change. If UNHCR Hong Kong thinks we are deluded, please step forward and explain your actions!

  50. Donation Business

    When we talk about the good the United Nations do, it is always relative. When we consider the UNHCR has received 2.1 BILLION USD and we look at the good work they are doing, we realize the results are smaller than the cash received. When we look at African refugees, the children that are suffering, we notice that: a) why is so much work still undone, it seems they are only starting each project b) there are still too many suffering refugees that should be benefiting from these billions c) clearly the donations are used for other purposes besides the camps. Have you listen to the news? UNHCR is always asking for more money! Now it is not about Somalia, they are asking for money for Niger, which is a rich country. They are always asking for MORE AND MORE MONEY for new problems, because they want to distract us from the truth and where the money is going. The first question is: Where are the donations going? Their apparent goal is to ask for assistance with a specific project, but every time the project is started and never finished. Before it was Somalia, yesterday it was Niger, today it is Mali – they always want more money and threaten the world by saying, “OTHERWISE THERE WILL BE A HUGE HUMANITARIAN DISASTER AND YOU DON’T WANT THAT ON YOUR CONSCIENCE, DO YOU?”

    But what happened to the money they raised for Somalia? How did they spend that money? An UNHCR expert claimed on TV5 (France) that something has to be done fast to relieve hunger in Niger, people are fleeing the cities, those in the cities are dying of hunger. The journalists were asking: Why in Haiti the people are asking the United Nations to leave? Why are they saying there the UN is not helpful! These journalists are right! The United Nations are always there, but they don’t solve problems despite receiving huge amounts of international donations. Personally I think this is the negative side of capitalism: the UNHCR Hong Kong is only interested in how to get money, they are not interested in people. Imagine if everything were perfect, they would all be out of a job. In my country I saw UN people taking photos of sick children in the poorest villages, not snapping shots of normal people in the city with cars, clothes and work. Look at their online photos, UNHCR Hong Kong wants people to see a bony African child, with torn clothes, sick, sharing one spoon among ten children eating from one small pot. That is the only image they want to exploit to raise more money!!!

    There is nobody there to report how the money is spent. There are no auditors. There are no controllers. There are no inspectors. There are nobody checking their work and expenditures. How can they explain their budgets are getting bigger and bigger while the situation on the ground is never improved? In Asia they say there are calamities in Africa and they raise money. In Africa they say there are calamities in Asia and they raise money. This is a global problem that goes beyond the Hong Kong situation.

  51. VF member

    Hi guys! I just want to tell you that your post is wonderful and very sharp and true. Thanks for caring for refugees in the special way you do. It’s inspiring! And really they have nobody except the Lord to care about them. God bless you brothers! Thanks Vision First and thank the Lord for having people like you. Blessing.

  52. Refugee father

    It seems to me that UNHCR Hong Kong is sending refugees for help at Hong Kong charities. It is like the elephant sending people to eat at the mosquito’s home instead of sharing his food. Why don’t they want to spend their donations in HK? Even the UNHCR logo is two hands protecting the family. They must take care of the refugee family and children. Why do they always say No – No – No! Why don’t they want to spend their millions? Before 2009 CARITAS helped with refugee children school, transportation, food, books, stationary, uniform and shoes. They also paid school fees above the sponsorship of HK Government. Now Caritas is no more in connection with them, UNHCR Hong Kong say they cannot help. They send us to Christian Action and Vision First whose donations are not enough to help all these children. It is the right of every child to go to school and learn from good teachers. As a struggling refugee father, I cannot work to support my family, so the UNHCR must support us or introduce companies who can help us. We cannot work, but we can sill learn a skill, job, profession so we are ready after resettlement to a third country to get a job. But the UNHCR does nothing to help our children or our training so that the future will be more bright. I’m not afraid of their revenge as they already revenge against me a long time, making me suffer many years with their bulling. One day we will celebrate their closure!

  53. Another saying

    When a child pees on the bed at night, he forgets that he has to sleep in it!
    the UNHCR is already wet 🙂

  54. My saying too

    When a child pees on the bed at night, he forgets that the day will come and all will see what he’s done!
    … soon the UNHCR Hong Kong will wake up

  55. My saying

    When the wind blows, you can see the chicken’s anus
    … the wind is now blowing on the UNHCR Hong Kong … what can I see?

  56. Friend of Ahmed

    In my country we say that “when you put the good medicine on a wound, the patient will experience a lot of pain, then it means the medicine is very effective”. I think the UNHCR Hong Kong is experiencing a lot of pain, which will hopefully help to change their ways. It is better to hit the iron when it is red hot. We need to help Vision First to promote this issue and protest more against the the unethical practices of the UNHCR: collecting huge donations and offering tiny cash to local refugees. We need to contact all our friends in the press and fight this battle in our interest and in the interest of all HK citizens. We already hear that the UNHCR is trying to block VF, but how can they stop a wave of justice? What is right is right and until we see their audit, until we study their expenditures we will not stop. Keep up the pressure Vision First! Thank you.

  57. I am a rejected UNHCR Hong Kong claimant and a very hopeful Torture Convention applicant. Last week I was at the Duty Lawyer Service office in Shatin from Monday to Wednesday working on my case all day long. The interviews are hard, but professional and very thorough. In the afternoon of February 15 I was interviewed again by my Immigration Department case-officer, a lady who is preparing my documents to send to the legal firm representing me. We talked frankly and openly about the rejection of my case by UNHCR Hong Kong. I showed her the original letter with the reason I was rejected (this is another story for another day). We talked for three days in her private office. She told me that the UNHCR’s three reasons for rejection are so light that she found them unacceptable given the overwhelming evidence I submitted. Behind these reason it seems UNHCR have other reasons that are not legal – but they cannot write it down. She said that if they didn’t write it officially, then their actions are illegal. She was convinced that the reasons used to reject me were stupid. That is exactly what she said. We shall see. Then she told me her colleagues heard about Vision First article against UNHCR fundraising and were discussing it. We went to the website and read your article. I said: “Hong Kong should look into this matter.” And she replied: “Of course, Hong Kong does not joke with this kind of practices.” She told me that she is sure the government will take appropriate actions to handle this situation. She expected an investigation to start. She also told me that the news is everywhere and people in the government are talking about it. Let me add that, due to the severity of my case, she was not a junior officer and all my documents were kept in a safe, not in the usual files. Dear Vision First, your work is not in vain, let’s keep up the fight! There is a saying that the staff of the UNHCR Hong Kong must understand: NO MATTER HOW LONG THE NIGHT MIGHT BE, DAWN WILL SURELY COME! Thank you Vision First for this opportunity to say what I feel and know.

  58. CYW – NGO staff

    Thank you Vision First for helping with compassion the refugees UNHCR leaves in the lurches. I proudly join my voice to the calls for full disclosure at that office. This secrecy must be promptly suppressed. It is self-evident that without legislation, powerful United Nation officials will not comply with common expectations of disclosure. Their supra-governmental status is an untenable excuse to shirk their clear responsibilities towards refugees, real people, real families suffering before their very eyes. Where is LegCo? What has happened to LegCo’s duties to monitor international agencies in Hongkong? The authorities must intervene to safeguard refugees who live legitimately in our community (without the right to work!), deprived of adequate housing and living support. In view of this article, I call Hong Kong government to comprehensively review the privileges, functions and, above all, fundraising of UNHCR Hong Kong. They are inflicting unnecessary suffering on the persecuted foreigners we welcomed into our community. They are ignoring their basic human rights. Their policies need to change before they disgrace our city.

  59. Muvee Fan

    Your whistleblowing article throws into the spotlight the transparency at UNHCR Hong Kong. As an anguished (ex-) donor of theirs, I call for an urgent overhaul of financial disclosure rules to plug loopholes that have facilitated years of abuse. By preventing annual reporting the UNHCR Hong Kong avoid being questioned and challenged by the thousands of donors supporting them here. We cannot trust the United Nations to be ‘saints’. Please watch the movie THE WHISTLEBLOWER to appreciate why independent supervision and control is essential.

  60. Concerned group

    I’m bewildered at the questions raised by your article. If the UNHCR Hong Kong does not spend donations on refugees, what on earth are they doing with it? The suspicion lingers they are hiding something. How is it possible UNHCR has immunity from disclosing expenditures? Not for 20M I would hope. If so these are self-serving rules designed to protect opaque procedures and hoodwink the generous (naïve?) public. I cannot imagine their secrecy hides anything good. Moreover, who is in charge there and how can we contact him/her? I tried googling their Hong Kong office and their staff is anonymous. Shouldn’t they publish a directory with names and titles? Who’s the puppet master? Does anyone know?

  61. I’m bewildered at the questions raised by your article. If the UNHCR Hong Kong does not spend donations on refugees, what on earth are they doing with it? The suspicion lingers they are hiding something. How is it possible UNHCR has immunity from disclosing expenditures? Not for 20M I would hope. If so these are self-serving rules designed to protect opaque procedures and hoodwink the generous (naïve?) public. I cannot imagine their secrecy hides anything good. Moreover, who is in charge there and how can we contact him/her? I tried googling their Hong Kong office and their staff is anonymous. Shouldn’t they publish a directory with names and titles? Who’s the puppet master? Does anyone know?

  62. I’m shocked! It’s pitiful how in this world, members of elite agencies like UNHCR Hong Kong hide millions beyond the eyes of the public – and indeed our government – while dolling out a pittance to the needy folks for whom the donations were raised in the first place – how is this possible? Who regulates and monitors these guys? Why isn’t this matter in the public domain? We need to spread the word!

  63. Steve Chan HKU

    Through Vision First’s actions we learn that JUSTICE is the virtue that moves good people to give to others what is due to them. Justice is the prime motive for serving the vulnerable, sustaining actions with compassion and advocating a fairer society. It is sadly a virtue lacking at UNHCR Hong Kong, whose actions increase refugees’ oppression rather than alleviate it as they are paid to do. Vision First is a FORCE OF CHANGE and we respect your good work – thank you.

  64. Jules + Rod

    These are challenging times for UNHCR Hong Kong and their refugees, whose legitimate requests are ignored. Personally, as residents and donors we are totally disillusioned with their promises and honesty. May the sun shine on their dark activities! The bigger the institution the greater the potential for corruption. It bothers us that the poorest of the poor take the brunt of UNHCR’s callousness – shame on them! Where are the regulators?

  65. This article is bewildering. By saying “Others do not understand”, sheds light on how UNHCR Hong Kong perceives their own duties and privileges as so special that nobody could possibly understand them. They are tightly wrapped in the fallacy that no one should understand what they never wish explained. Instead why don’t they come clean with their accounts? Why don’t they publish operational and administrative expenses like every NGO is required to do worldwide?

  66. Bates HW Wong

    Thank you Vision First for your enlightening article. Thank you commentators for these candid, heartfelt writings. Your efforts draw attention on UNHCR Hong Kong practices, motivations and goals. They cannot avoid the public scrutiny that is now focused on their self-centered and self-important manners. They have forgotten their core values and mission. Until the transition is made to an UNHCR-free Hong Kong, let us support the needs of refugees and denounce any further abuses against them. The UN ran a campaign last year “One Refugee is One too many!” and today we realize what they meant: they hate looking after every single one of them!

  67. Tommy Chan

    If UNHCR Hong Kong feels that the obligation to care for refugees is too much and if this duty places unrealistic expectations on their shoulders, it should not hesitate to transfer those donated millions back to the HK people (Social Welfare Department) to care for the gravely overlooked and neglected refugee community.

  68. Gordon Student

    Last week at Professor Gordon’s class at Christian Action we talked about this Vision First article. I was surprised the topic was selected and I didn’t expect the conversation to be that passionate. The general impression was: finally somebody has the guts to speak up and say what everyone it talking about for years. There are huge issues with the way UNHCR handles Refugee Status Determination, unilaterally, unfairly, falling short of the high standards of HK courts. However the focus of the class was how UNHCR Hong Kong collects millions of dollars which vanish without accountability, ignoring the pressing needs of legitimate Hong Kong refugees. It was stunning to discover such discontent and frustration with this agency that fails spectacularly to care for those it is paid to serve. We talked about what UNHCR does in Hong Kong and, sadly, there was are few results to show for their efforts (and indeed their salaries!) We agreed it was time to find adequate channels to inform public opinion as UNHCR is only afraid of looking bad in the press. Now we know why!

  69. UNHCR takes care of refugees in other parts of the world, especially Kosovo, giving them 11 USD a day, while it bluntly ignores those from Hong Kong and Africa. In Kenya in particular the refugees receive less than 10 US cent. UNHCR has failed to meet the needs of some 231,000 refugees in the Kakuma and Dadaab camps in Kenya all of whom are of Somali ethnicity. I wish every person in UNHCR would understand that they are not having just another job. They have the chance to serve humanity! This is their job: to help helpless people who cannot help themselves. There is no place for corruption in their work. When reported it will be a great shame worldwide. Besides, outside UNHCR, there are lots of good men and women who devote their lives to helping refugees. This will be a killing shot! It must all stop this time thanks to this article from Vision First about all this shameful corruption.

  70. A Better Hong Kong

    I am a local citizen in HK. Although the asylum seekers in HK does not form a large proportion of our population, I agree that they are definitely needing our help. Many often complain that the process of RSD is not transparent, but after reading this blog entry, it seems that even the use of money from fundraising lacks transparency too. I am quite surprised of this, as the sum of the money can improve the living conditions of asylum seekers. I do think that the whole process requires more openess, as this is an essential element of a sound legal regime in a common law jurisdiction. UNHCR is an independent institution to determine the refugee status of the applicants, but I think it will be better if it is held for accountability as all public or semi-public organizations.

    It is expensive to live in HK, with the rising costs of all necessities, including the rents, food and transports. Hong Kong local people recognize the inflation and its impact to our lives, so inevitably asylum seekers are affected as they are not allowed to work and therefore have to rely on the government and NGOs’ subsidization. With the whole lot of money that UNHCR receives, I can’t see any reason why they cannot offer assistance for asylum seekers by providing cash for their basic needs? The right to live should be protected. Although they may not get the financial social welfare assistance as the local citizens, I believe that they are entitled to more help.