A lost tribe in the city: health status and needs of African asylum seekers and refugees in Hong Kong
Appreciation on behalf of Refugees in Hong Kong, I would like to extend our sincere thanks to Hong Kong Government for the protection and support given to individuals from the time of arrival and up to the moment. Though in some areas the government need to improve in that to meet daily life basic needs.
Due to gender issues, I would like to start with increasing of criminals in Hong Kong by a categorized group as refugees , this is being caused by people trying to find a way of self-sustenance on basic needs e.g. ; some guys sell drugs and being used by some of local people to carry on this business .
The question is where do refugees get drugs when they cannot go out of HK?
Women are being used by boyfriends to expand on this business in selling drugs.
Then at the end police catch and jail them.
The number of refugees in Hong Kong has increased considerably, this because the screening system [USM] has failed to identify and separate between the genuine refugees and the fake ones. Hong Kong being a signatory to the UN Torture Convention that it ratified in 1992, however it does not resettle refugees in its territory.
Refugee Union strives to unify all refugees in Hong Kong despite their differences in race, nationality and religion to achieve a harmonious society of just men and women.
Reasons Why Refugees Come to Hong Kong.
Running away from Wars
Threats of Torture / Torture
Challenges Faced by Refugees in Hong Kong
Lack of Education Opportunities
Inadequate rental assistance from the Government.
Inadequate Utilities assistance.
Lack of enough Food to eat.
Lack of quality Medical care.
Slow Screening of Claims without defined time frame.
Lack of enough transport allowance.
Continuous interviews which has a toll in our lives, this causes stress.
Long wait for those accepted before resettlement.
Discrimination- lack of inclusiveness in the society
Limitations of Refugees in Hong Kong
Lack of legal status. They have immigration papers not ID
Children are not given ID in Hong Kong
Children when complete high class not allowed to go for further education
No, trained in any skill, no profession, guidance in career, cannot join any institution as they lack financial muscle.
Difficult to open bank accounts.
Allow refugees to work
Issue ID cards to refugees
Stop Government propaganda saying that all refugees are criminals, drug dealers
Integrate refugees in the society.
Hong Kong is an international city with a multitude of nationalities, such as Australians, Americans, Africans, Southeast Asians and Europeans. However in the street Hong Kong Police is very keen to frequently check and single out black people. What on earth have African people done, or is it because of our skin color?
In fact, the so called “Freedom of Movement” in this city has become a regular prison experience for us mostly Africans, refugees and residents alike, because uniformed officers regularly harass and follow us around without probable cause. Are African people considered criminals on sight?
Most times the police approach us in the streets and parks and demonstrate clear disrespect and discrimination. We are greatly profiled compared to other nationalities. How often are other races intercepted for random checks and searches? I don’t think overseas Chinese are treated this way especially in Africa where I come from.
For example, at 6pm on 2 January 2016 we were crossing a road near Central Ferry Piers with an African friend. As we waited for the pedestrian lights to turn green, we noticed three uniformed Police officers standing on the opposite side of the road. When they saw us, they spoke to each other and then came directly towards us. We were predictably intercepted and stopped.
We were asked to produce our passports or ID cards. The officers were surprised when we both produced Hong Kong ID cards. Presumably they thought that we were over stayers. As they called in for personal data, they requested us to raise our hands in the air while they searched our pockets, bags and wallets as passersby walked around and watched the spectacle.
One Police officer asked us, “Where are you from?”, “Are you tourists?”, “Where are you going?” To say the least, we were very upset at the way we were being treated, as if we were criminals. I replied to them, “Please, you have our identity cards. You should find all the information you are looking for from your office. There is no need to ask us.”
Then we enquired, “Why do you always suspect and stop African people in the street? Why do you treat us like criminals? Do you check other nationalities like this? Look at the many people passing by. Why don’t you check their IDs and disrespect them like you are doing to us now?”
One of the officers replied, “Yes, we check everybody the same way we are doing to you now. And this is for our record and you can check our record to see.” However our experience in Hong Kong and that of many Africans we know is quite different. It appears that police stop and search many black people, particularly in certain areas like around Chung King Mansion and both sides of the Star Ferry.
We then responded, “We do not believe what you are saying, because ever since we have been living in Hong Kong, we have never seen the police treat other nationalities the way they treat blacks. However, African governments and people respect and protect Chinese people whenever they visit the African Countries. In fact, the Chinese in Africa are privileged and enjoy their freedoms unlike blacks in Hong Kong, monitored and followed everywhere. This is harassment. Africans also deserve to be free in Hong Kong.”
The officers did not reply. They looked at each other. Closed their notebooks and walked off.
Stopping and questioning
Under section 54(1) of the Police Force Ordinance (Cap. 232 Laws of Hong Kong), it is lawful for a police officer to stop a person who is acting in a suspicious manner. The police officer may require that person to produce proof of identity (i.e. by showing a Hong Kong ID card or passport), and detain that person on the spot for a reasonable period to make enquiries into whether or not the person is suspected of having committed any offence at any time. What constitutes a “suspicious manner” is based only on the subjective assessment of the police officer. However, the police officer must, in fact, have a genuine suspicion.
My name is Cartier Dieodo and I am an organizer of the Refugee Union. I have a family in Hong Kong and I can never return to my country where the government murdered my father and brother.
I often ask myself the question: “Do refugees have the right to a future and if so, what type?” Any parent will appreciate these burning questions moving in my mind when I look at my children and worry about their future as refugees in Hong Kong.
There are certain observations that have stuck in my mind. I have often reflected upon them in over a decade of asylum in Hong Kong. I have also shared them with my friends. Our lives are awash with events we cannot control. But do we learn from them? Do we learn from the experience we gain?
To turn an event into an experience, we have to reflect upon it, which takes time and focus. Only then can we learn from what happens in our life. I may be wrong, but this is what I believe. The stress and challenge of asylum make me think that if children have the right to education, then what about the parents? What kind of future can we expect raising children like this? How can parents train and raise children without prospects?
An international psychologist taught me that a balance of education, work and family should be a person’s focus. It is the major issue around which so many problems arise. It is therefore relevant for refugees stuck in Hong Kong to ask: Do we have the right to a future? Is the past our future? What future can we offer our children? What will happen to them? I don’t have the answers.
To raise a family in these harsh conditions is very hard. To live a life without a future goes against the nature of being human, because everyone strives for progress in life. To have no future as a refugee is a very challenging and complex situation when no solution is offered by the local government.
Most refugee parents chose to ignore the issue as long as possible. They burry their head in the sand because they have no solution. Many refugee parents maybe do not fully understand the challenge of parenting their children in a fast-paced and dynamic cosmopolitan city – without hope.
The complexity of daily life rises to a degree that calls for new mental capabilities and skills. We cannot live today how we lived yesterday, ignoring the future. It is desirable for all members of the refugee community, those with children and those without, to carefully consider what the future holds.
Parents in particular ought to take special considerations as they are responsible for their family. Without organization the majority of parents will be unable to grasp the new opportunities and rise to shape the future to the fullest of their ability. Those who fail will unfortunately regress.
As parents we need to gain some knowledge to handle properly our children and ourselves for a better future, or there will be none. Strong parents can and will become progressively stronger. Weak parents will one day be challenged by their children asking: What’s my future, Dad?