Refugees in Hong Kong

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Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifies that "everyone has the right to seek and enjoy asylum abroad from persecution." At the end of April 2006, the UN refugee Agency, also called the UNHCR [1] stated that there were 1473 asylum seekers in Hong Kong waiting for a decision. 24.7% of them were women and 23.9% were children. The Hong-Kong UNCHR receives 150 to 160 applications a month. Ninety percent of the asylum seekers in Hong-Kong come from south Asia (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippine, Nepal), 9% come from Africa (Congo, Liberia..) and 1% come from other regions. There are few Non Governmental Organizations who take care of these refugees in Hong-Kong. The most active one is Christian Action which provides shelter, food, counsel and medical aid. RSD Watch estimated that of 798 cases decided by UNHCR in Hong-Kong in 2004, there was an 18% success rate. Some cases can make an appeal, but due to the UNCHR's backlog, some asylum seekers spend years in HK waiting for their case to be processed.

Assistance to the refugees[edit]

Domestic law and treaties[edit]

Hong-Kong has no domestic legislation to determine the fate of asylum seekers. Though China is a signatory of the 1951 Geneva Convention Geneva Conventions or the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (The Refugee Convention [2]), Hong-Kong even after the 1997 handover is not bound to these treaties. In the past, the Hong-Kong government put into force some legislation toward refugees but only for targeted actions, such as to control flows of Vietnamese refugees in the late 1990s [3]. This legislation was ended in 1998. Asylum seekers are sometimes detained for overstaying their visa. In June 2006, some refugees detained in the Castle Peak Detention Center went on a hunger strike to protest against their very long imprisonment.

The task of the UNCHR[edit]

As Hong Kong does not have its own refugee status determination system, the UNHCR of Hong Kong is responsible for determining asylum application pursuant to the mandate given in its statute to provide international protection to refugees. There are different steps in the application process:

  1. Claim is made and the asylum seeker is interviewed (request for advisers or legal representatives to be present has sometimes been denied)
  2. Status is determined by the UNHCR.
  3. Status is granted or denied (no detailed reasons are given if denied)
  4. An appeal can be made within the field office.

NOTE: In HONG KONG, there are 1,112 asylum seekers in HK, and 103 staying in HK were given refugee status. [4]

External links[edit]