Many of my friends are surprised that there are refugees in Hong Kong. Do you know who they are? Where do they come from? And why they are here?
Most of use know that, years ago, we had a lot of refugees from Vietnam. But they are all gone, or are integrated into the community. The current batch are mostly from South Asia and Africa: Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Congo, Somalia, etc. It should not surprise us since we often hear about religious, political, or other types of conflicts from these places.
They are in Hong Kong because Hong Kong is easy to get into. But most want to go to some other country such as the USA, Australia, Canada, etc. They apply to the United Nations, to be classified as refugees, and wait to be re-located. In the mean time, they are mostly considered to have over-stayed in Hong Kong. The adults cannot work. Their children, for a long time, are not allowed to attend school. With little money and not being able to speak Chinese, they cannot enter good schools even when they are allowed to.
A South Asian father told me he had been waiting in Hong Kong for six years. He was ashamed to have to ask people for money to feed his family. Two others with him had been here for two years. None had been able to work.
Christian Action and some other NGOs have been trying to help them: to find them places to stay, to feed them, to teach them Cantonese and other skills, to organize activities for their children, .... But they don’t even have the money to travel to free activities such as those organized by our team of volunteers.
I cannot judge whether they are bona fide refugees. However, there are not that many of them and their needs are modest. I do understand that the better they are treated here, the more of them will come, and Hong Kong will not be able to cope. But can’t we treat them just a little better, to give people a minimum level of dignity? Who knows that, one day, we will not be the ones needing help from others? In fact, we have been doing exactly that. What did God say to those who has received God’s grace but refuse treat others the same way?