The SCMP reports that a Hong Kong government-funded refugee group allegedly forced asylum seekers to live in a converted pigeon farm described as a ‘degrading slum unfit for human habitation’.
Hong Kong’s handling of asylum seekers has long been criticised by rights groups. According to CNN, claimants are given a monthly housing allowance of HK$1,200 (946 yuan). The median rent of an apartment outside of the city centre is HK$10,000 and asylum claimants are forced to live on the street or in “shanty towns” overseen by International Social Service Hong Kong (ISS-HK).
Danny Lee at the SCMP visited one such housing complex:
A former pigeon shed has been turned into makeshift rooms, held together by flimsy pieces of wood, metal and breeze blocks. Amid the stench of excrement, the lingering smell of a farm persists. There is no drinking water and only cold showers, some of them outdoors. The rent is HK$1,300 a month per person, of which ISS-HK pays the bulk – HK$1,200; the rest is met by other charitable organisations.
Vision First, an asylum seeker rights group, says it is considering legal action against ISS-HK over the “dehumanising” housing situation.
Asylum seekers are not permitted to work while their claims are being dealt with, and must depend on the stipend from ISS-HK and whatever charitable assistance is available to survive.
[Image credit: Danny Lee]