Against ISS-HK’s malicious food distribution

Post Date: Sep 15th, 2013 | Categories: Advocacy | COMMENT

Since April 2006 there were complaints about the quantity and mostly the quality of food, but refugees managed to eat sufficiently. Nobody was hungry and meals were balanced. Refugees visited contracted grocery shops three times monthly to collect two bags of groceries with a variety of food groups. There were carbohydrates to eat with proteins and vegetables to cook with other ingredients. Poor quality maybe, but a good mix.

Last night a desperate mother emailed, “It’s more than worse than before with the food provided to me. How can i feed three kids on ten rotten eggs given to me on the first time? And they say the food is fresh. (We collected) 1 liter of milk, 6 packs of juice, 6 pieces of meat and 1 chicken piece”. Another mother called in tears. She complained she had no rice, pasta or bread to feed her hungry children. She said the shop gave her a fish head.

Something is amiss. ISS’ decision to enforce a six-times-a-month food distribution is hard to comprehend. ISS claims refugees requested more frequent collections, namely every 5 vs. 10 days. This however cannot be generally true, given long travelling distances and longer arguments over bus fares. ISS claims this ensures fresher produce, but small heads of lettuce and wilted broccoli fail to justify the aggravation. At best, ISS solved one problem by creating a bigger one!

We were informed by a reliable government source that, “the revised arrangement was proposed in response to previous requests by torture claimants / asylum seekers.” However, one ISS senior manager stated to a refugee that, “we don’t really have any choice and we have to do it six times … I can’t change the government’s policy, right?”

Among conflicting statements, the reality angers refugees and even shop owners. While a refugee collected 10Kg of rice, 500gr of flour and 1 tin of ghee with nothing else, another collects 1 chicken, detergent, coffee, sugar and fruit juice with no staple foods. And yet both had to ration their welfare assistance for five days. Children are worse off with powder milk and cornflakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the period. Finally, we are sorry for the mother who collected a dozen rotten eggs!

The facts are astounding. Mothers are crying at collection points, while children cling on in tears. Men shout angrily and refuse to take home what amounts to an insult. One said, “What will I say to my wife?” Meetings are called. Gatherings are forming. Anger is building up to a dangerous point. We measure our words carefully saying that refugees haven’t been pushed so hard against the wall. The reaction is one ISS must take full responsibility for.

This organization (under police investigation) is doing nothing to mitigate a critical situation and reach out to those it should actually enjoy serving. International Social Service has seemingly confused the concept of ‘social service’ with that of ‘social control’. ISS appears to relish inflicting hardship at every opportunity. In fact, it appears this NGO cares nothing about those it serves and persistently disregards the good of its clients by deploying harmful services. ISS doesn’t seem to get anything right lately. Perhaps they never did.  

Against ISS-HK's malicious food distribution