No. 53 – The slum with the big shed

Post Date: Nov 26th, 2013 | Categories: Advocacy | COMMENT

In and around 2009 there were over 10,000 refugees seeking protection in Hong Kong. By early 2013 the number had halved and today it is close to 4,000. After exposing over 50 heavily-inhabited slums, we wonder how ISS-HK settled the additional 6,000 service users they previously managed. It is reasonable to speculate that a third of them were forced to live in refugee ghettos that have since closed down.

This is a distant location: over a half hour bus ride from Kam Sheung Road MTR and a half hour walk through junkyards, up a hillside to the border of Lam Tsuen Country Park. It is hard to believe that refugees moved so far out to secure rooms cheap enough for rent assistance. But again they were exploited. Rooms this small in animal sheds, in such primitive conditions, should cost 300$, not 1200$

According to our guide, there was a time when over twenty refugees lived in this ghetto. His wife and daughter lived here for three years, until they were suddenly removed to Indonesia without his consent and against his will. The loss of his loved ones, the painful separation from his baby girl caused a distress that Immigration policies never take into account. The right to family union is often callously violated.

Stories are still told about a winter night when seven police vans were deployed to this ghetto to quell the anger against a ‘crazy’ landlady who had pushed it too far. She charged more than refugees could afford for rent and utilities. When bills were not paid on time, she cut water and electricity leaving everyone in the dark and forcing families with young children to put up with unbearable conditions.

On another night the entire community of twenty refugees moved to the Pat Heung police station and apparently spent the night there, as they refused to stay in dark, cold huts any longer. The police had to mediate and talk some sense into the slum lady who failed to understand her hardline tactics were bad for her illegal rental business. Merciless exploitation is encountered in every ghetto to different degrees.

No. 53 – The slum with the big shed

click above to see where 20 refugees lived in a remote hillside ghetto