Monday, June 21, 2010

Refugees in Hong Kong

Yesterday was World Refugee Day. The Chung King Mansion Center of Christian Action organized a fund raising gala in Kowloon Park, attended by hundreds of people, mainly their clients and supporters.

It is estimated 1,000 to 3,000 asylum seeks arrive in Hong Kong each year. And there are more than 7,000 asylum seekers and torture claimants currently in Hong Kong. Those that I have met came from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Congo, Benin, and Somalia. Only 5% of them gets recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Those recognized has a real possibility of being re-settled in some country such as USA, Britain, Canada or Australia. Those not recognized have very little hope. Some have been stuck in Hong Kong for more than 5 years.

While they are in Hong Kong, they cannot work, and most of those at school age cannot attend schools. Whether they are genuine refugees or not, they are in a wretched state in Hong Kong. Mostly they are invisible. Most people in Hong Kong are probably unaware of their existence.

A number of organizations and individuals, such as Christian Action, some churches, some lawyers, ..., including a small team from our university, are doing what we can to help, mostly on a volunteer basis. It is a shame that Hong Kong, a wealthy community by most standards, is not doing more for them.

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