Hong Kong repatriated 5,932 unsuccessful refugee claimants in 2016

Apr 2nd, 2017 | Government, Immigration, Rejection | Comment

HKFP - refugees removed in 2016 - 2Apr2017

Crime by non-ethnic Chinese on Immigration recognizance

Apr 2nd, 2017 | Crime, Government, Immigration, Police | Comment

Question to Security Bureau 1

Asylum seeker claims repeated attacks by immigration officers

Mar 16th, 2017 | Government, Immigration, Media, Rejection | Comment

SCMP - Asylum seeker in Hong Kong claims repeated attacks by immigration officers - 16Mar2017

Hong Kong’s Worker News Wins Award for Series Debunking Myths About Refugees

Mar 13th, 2017 | Immigration, Media, Racism, Rejection | Comment

Hong Kong's Worker News Wins Award for Series Debunking Myths About Refugees - 13Mar2017

Border clamp cuts illegal migrant flow

Mar 1st, 2017 | Government, Immigration, Media | Comment

Standard - Border clamp cuts illegal migrant flow - 1Mar2017

‘Ray of hope’ as Hong Kong recognises first Syrian refugee in the city

Feb 6th, 2017 | Immigration, Media | Comment

SCMP - ‘Ray of hope’ as Hong Kong recognises first Syrian refugee in the city - 6Feb2017


Also read: 

Hong Kong’s recognition of refugee status is no guarantee of protection for those who need it

Unlike Trump’s America, Hong Kong’s churches are a beacon of hope for asylum seekers

‘Another door has been shut for me’: Iranian asylum seeker in Hong Kong after Trump ban

Tighter Hong Kong visa rules may affect more foreign visitors than only Indians

Dec 19th, 2016 | Government, Immigration, Media | Comment

indians vis

Why did Hong Kong Immigration detain Nepal’s former leader?

Dec 12th, 2016 | Immigration, Media, Racism | Comment

SCMP - Hong Kong Immigration detains former Nepali PM - 10Dec2016

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


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

Newslens - on fake refugees and ISS - 7Nov2016