|Being a refugee in Hong Kong|
|Written by Marie Beatrice Gauthiez|
|Wednesday, 09 May 2007|
What it's like to be a refugee in Hong Kong? What do they endure? How do they live their everyday life in Hong Kong?
Most of the time, the refugees that ended up in Hong Kong did not decide themselves to come here. Z., an 18 years old African teenager, was put in a plane for Hong Kong by a friend after his father has been kidnapped in front of him.
As his house has been loomed by the same people, he has nothing but his passport with him. He is in Hong Kong since September and still had no chance to have an interview the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR).
He is very worried for his father from who he has no news. Before his father kidnapping, Z. was an happy boy, dreaming of becoming a professional football player. He had no time to finish high school and he has the impression that his life has stopped since he is here. The only distraction that he has is playing football.
He asked the red cross to launch a research. Z. dreams of finding his father. Then he hopes that he will leave Hong Kong and go to live with his father again. When ask why his father has been kidnapped, Z. says he doesn't really know. "My father worked at the customs, so I think that he saw things he should not have".
Aimé, amother young African refugee, lost his family a long time ago. He did small jobs to survive. One day, he has been proposed to hand out political tracts in the street. He has been arrested because of these tracts. The police thought he was a dissident. Aimé was jailed with other young people. A priest took care of them and when he went out of jail, the priest sent him here in order to protect his life. "When the government thinks that you are againts him, they never let you in peace", he said.
A lot of people in Hong Kong are wrong about the intentions of these refugees. Most of them wish they could have their lives back, but political turmoil prevent them to go back. They came to Hong Kong to seek protection but once they are here, instead of finding some security and stability, they lose their freedom and their dignity: when they approach the Immigration Department to renew their visas, the Immigration Department ignores their asylum claims, refuses to extend their visas and detain them for overstaying.
Since more than a month, Z. and George are detained in the Castle Peak detention center for overstaying their visas.
These threats lead many asylum seekers to stay illegally in Hong Kong while waiting for their claims of refugee status to be processed by the UNHCR. And it can last for years.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: In accordance with UNHCR guidelines, no photographs have been taken of refugees for this story.)
Watch this VIDEO: Sarah Cornish, social worker at Christian Action, describes the life of the Hong Kong refugees. With the team of Christian Action, a non-governmental organization, she is devoted to the refugees, so much that she said that this is very hard to let everything behind her when she comes home at night. The Christian Action, located in the Chung King Mansion on Nathan Road, Kowloon provides first help to the refugees, housing, food, health care, English workshop, school for the children, support etc…
Watch this second VIDEO realized by Samantha Culp for her exhibition ” A Sense of Asylum“: Two refugees, a young man from Congo and a mother from Sri Lanka, tell us their stories. This clip is realized in a manner that the viewer will never see the faces of the refugees. This is because the UNHCR guideline recommend not to disclose the refugees identities as well as their faces.
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 May 2007 )|
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