An Impossible Choice: asylum seekers and the cost of living in HK

Mar 6th, 2018 | Advocacy, Government, Legal | Comment

From MENA FN -- Business and Financial News, based out of Jordan

One of the biggest issues acutely affecting asylum seekers in Hong Kong is the city’s stark economic inequality. Rent and food prices hit asylum seekers especially hard because of the inadequate housing and food vouchers received from International Social Service (ISS-HK) an NGO funded by the Hong Kong government. Asylum seekers receive only HK $1,200 per month in food vouchers (HK $40 a day for all 3 meals), and HK $1,500 per person for rent paid directly to the landlord. These amounts are impossibly low for any person trying to survive in Hong Kong. For asylum seekers, whose applications for refugee status in Hong Kong can take years, even over a decade, to process, many have no choice but to seek income when trying to adequately support themselves, or their families in Hong Kong.

Read more here:

February Round-Up at Refugee Union

Feb 27th, 2018 | Advocacy, Refugee Community, RU updates, programs, events | Comment

Enjoying drumming at Drink for Justice 4 (photo credit Josh Tam)
Enjoying drumming at Drink for Justice 4 (photo credit Josh Tam)

Drink for Justice 4
Last month’s Drink For Justice event was “smooth sailing” at Fishteria in Wan Chai. With excellent food and drink, as well as fantastic art and music, over 40 professionals, refugees, and concerned citizens came together to discuss pressing social issues and voice solidarity for the refugee community of Hong Kong. Thanks to Josh Tam for the amazing photography of the event!

Please join us for our next Drink for Justice event on March 15th, 6:30-9 PM, at P&P in Sheung Wan. Stand-up comedy performances for the brave, and delicious Italian food and drink for all. See you there!

Guests enjoying the raffle at Drink for Justice 4 (PC: Josh Tam)
Guests enjoying the raffle at Drink for Justice 4 (PC: Josh Tam)

Refugee Union’s February Monthly Meeting
This month’s meeting was a successful gathering despite the cold weather. Refugee Union (RU) members discussed the current programming at RU (join us at the next baby/toddler cultural diversity playgroup Wednesday February 28th, 11-12 PM, at Refugee Union!) as well as continued concerns and challenges of living as a refugee in Hong Kong. The recent deportation of 68 Vietnamese asylum seekers in December deeply shook the larger refugee community. Families especially worry about being separated from children who are born in Hong Kong if their cases for asylum are rejected.

Thank you for the donations of winter clothes and blankets! We are continuing to accept donations of diapers, baby formula and food. Other necessary items we are accepting include assorted cleaning products, tissues, and toilet paper. These products are essential in any household, but refugees receive only 1 roll of toilet paper from ISS…for a whole month. Refugees may only purchase certain food items at Park n’ Shop, meaning that they are restricted from purchasing many necessary household items, like dish soap. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Join us for “Drink for Justice” on 15 March

Feb 24th, 2018 | Refugee Community, RU updates, programs, events | Comment


Please join us for our next Drink for Justice event on March 15th, 6:30-9 PM, at P&P in Sheung Wan (6 Po Yan Street). Stand-up comedy performances for the brave, and free-flow drinks and canapes for all. Plus, come purchase beautiful art and handicrafts hand-made by refugees in Hong Kong. Tickets can be purchased at, or for more information, email  See you there!

Kung Hei Fat Choi

Feb 16th, 2018 | Advocacy | Comment

paper-cut dog

Hong Kong refugee musicians put on hip-hop shows – a form of release while they’re stuck in bureaucratic limbo

Feb 8th, 2018 | Personal Experiences, RU updates, programs, events | Comment

SCMP - refugee rap

Protest in Support of Tuition Subsidies for Refugee Children

Jan 26th, 2018 | Advocacy, Education, Racism | Comment

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Protesting against default on refugee children tuition subsidies outside the Cheung Sha Wan government office. Picture Credit: Socialist Action

 On Tuesday, 23 January, Refugee Union members, along with members of Socialist Action, protested outside the Cheung Sha Wan government offices in support of continuing tuition subsidies for refugee children. Currently the government office has delayed these necessary subsidies, leaving refugee children and their families in limbo. These subsidies are essential so that refugee children may have equal access to quality education. Refugees in Hong Kong are prohibited from working in the city, and thus cannot afford to pay the increasingly expensive tuition fees charged by schools here. Refugee Union believes that quality education and child care are human rights, and that government spending must be increased in these areas. Refugee Union opposes the Hong Kong government’s accelerating privatization of education. This government action disproportionately affects the refugee community, and is detrimental to all who reside in Hong Kong.

Join us at “Drink For Justice” on 8 February 2018

Jan 24th, 2018 | RU updates, programs, events | Comment


Drink For Justice February Fundraiser: Join the Band

Thursday February 8th, 6:30-8:30 PM

All-you-can-drink, HK$200 Early Bird until Jan 31, HK $250 Feb 1 onwards

@ Fishteria, 111 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai


Monthly Meeting at Refugee Union

Jan 12th, 2018 | Advocacy | Comment

The January monthly meeting of members and visitors at Refugee Union
The January monthly meeting at Refugee Union

On 8 January, Refugee Union (RU) held its first monthly meeting of 2018. Though the weather was quite cold, members and visitors showed up in force. RU members discussed ongoing issues and concerns. One of the most pressing issues for refugees continues to be legal battles for recognition of refugee status here in Hong Kong, and fear of deportation back to dangerous situations in home countries. Such legal battles cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for refugees and their families here. Parents especially worry about the future of their children, and how to raise healthy and happy children here in Hong Kong in the midst of this stress and uncertainty.

Other issues discussed included raising awareness about the recent apartment rent increases. While rent has gone up, housing allowances for refugees have not. Since refugees are prohibited from working in Hong Kong, they are particularly affected by the high living expenses here.

Lastly, members discussed how to continue funding for ongoing and new programming here at Refugee Union. Cash donations will go a long way in order to provide for language classes, kids’ classes, playgroup, and more. Refugees have skills to share and develop with the greater Hong Kong community. Invest in refugees in Hong Kong. For more information, please email

January Round-up at Refugee Union

Jan 12th, 2018 | RU Report, RU updates, programs, events | Comment

Refugee Union (RU) has already started getting busy in 2018. On 8 January, Refugee Union held its monthly meeting for members and visitors, and last weekend, RU resumed classes for children and adults.

Student volunteers assisting with kids’ classes at Refugee Union last Saturday

We are grateful for all the donations of warm jackets, blankets, and diapers that have come in so far, and could always use more! Keep the donations coming. Most importantly, cash donations are needed to support existing programs for refugees, like our cultural diversity playgroup and language  classes, as well as to fund new programs in 2018. There is still much to improve. Refugees have essential skills to share and develop, and your support will not only assist refugees, but the greater Hong Kong population as well. Human rights such as affordable housing, food, and child support remain incredibly difficult for refugees in Hong Kong to access.

Young people and parents at play during cultural diversity playgroup, held every other Wednesday at Refugee Union
Young people and parents at play during cultural diversity playgroup, held every other Wednesday at Refugee Union

Please consider making a cash donation to Refugee Union – we would be deeply grateful, and it will go a long way to supporting the refugee community here in Hong Kong. You can email us as at to learn more, and to donate. Thank you! 

The Holidays at Refugee Union

Dec 22nd, 2017 | Advocacy | Comment

The Community at Refugee Union has been celebrating the holidays this December in a variety of ways. On the 9th of December, students at the West Harbor School organized a Christmas party for RU families. The event was a great success, and with activities like face-painting, gift exchanges, and arts and crafts, plus a visit from Santa, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

Santa, families, and students at the West Island School Christmas Party


Families and students enjoying some pizza at the West Island School party!


Students and families making arts and crafts at the West Island School Christmas Party


On the 16th of December, RU members, volunteers, donors, and friends came together at the Refugee Union office to celebrate the holiday season. There was lots of delicious food and fellowship to be had. Many many thanks to our donors who sponsored this event.

Thank you so much to all of our supporters this holiday season! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

Enjoying some excellent dishes at the Refugee Union Christmas Party


Members enjoying some great food at the RU Christmas Party


A great bounty at the Refugee Union Christmas Party. Thank you donors!

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