2014-03-18     Hong Kong's "dirty secret"

The Guardian newspaper from Manchester in England has one of the largest website readerships in the world. On March 6 it carried a disturbing headline: "Hong Kong's dirty secret: thousands of asylum seekers left waiting in squalor."

Different people give different figures, but there are at least several thousand asylum seekers in Hong Kong, mainly from Afghanistan, Africa, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Only a tiny number of them have been recognised as refugees, despite the fact that some 70% of Pakistani asylum seekers in Australia were accepted as refugees in 2011-12.

For the past three weeks there has been a "refugee occupation" of an area in Wanchai near the Social Services Department. The occupiers claim that the Hong Kong government is treating them unfairly, especially by not allowing them to work, not even do voluntary work. As a result of working illegally, several hundred asylum seekers are currently in detention in Hong Kong.

At the Wanchai site, posters denounce International Social Services, employed by the government,  for making asylum seekers live in sub-standard housing and with not enough food. More details about this issue can be found at www.visionfirstnow.org.

One suggestion implied in the Guardian article seems to be the best way of solving this sad situation:  withdraw Hong Kong from the UN Refugee Convention (to stop any more refugees coming) and then help the ones trapped in Hong Kong go to another country or let them stay here.


Wanchai photos