Asylum plea by Snowden would not be fast-tracked, says UN refugee office

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' office at Yau Ma Tei.  Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Edward Snowden will not be given preferential treatment if he applies for asylum in Hong Kong, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' office.

And an asylum seeker warned Snowden may face a long wait should he seek protection.

Thursday, 20 June, 2013, 4:30am 2 comments

Hong Kong should help those in refugee limbo

UNHCR's office at Jordan. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

The government has been reluctant to even screen refugee applicants for genuine cases since the ordeal of handling tens of thousands of Vietnamese asylum seekers in the 1980s. They fear that to do so might reopen the floodgates. The job is left to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, from whose decisions there is no appeal, and which has limited resources.

6 Apr 2013 - 4:01am 1 comment

Top court says Hong Kong must assess refugee cases independently

UNHCR's office at Jordan. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

The screening system is now expected to be rewritten after five judges of the Court of Final Appeal unanimously allowed a challenge by three African men. The government said the ruling would not affect the city's policy of not granting asylum to anyone. Instead, people granted refugee status in Hong Kong are resettled elsewhere.

26 Mar 2013 - 2:04pm

Persecuted protected by customary international law, UNHCR says

The principle of not sending a person to a place where he may be persecuted is "beyond doubt" customary international law, the UN refugee agency says. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees weighed in yesterday at the hearing of three African men who were making their last attempt to challenge the way the city vetted refugee claims.

7 Mar 2013 - 4:13am

Number of Syrian refugees reaches one million

Syrian refugees collect aid and rations at Al Zaatri refugee camp in Mafraq. Photo: Reuters

The number of Syrians who have fled their country since a deadly civil conflict erupted two years ago has hit one million, the UN’s refugee agency said Wednesday.

7 Mar 2013 - 1:37am

Africans appeal ruling on refugees

Three African men have taken their challenge against Hong Kong's system for vetting refugee claims to the highest court, arguing that the government must assess the applications itself rather than passing the responsibility to the UNHCR.

6 Mar 2013 - 4:32am

Hong Kong should help refugees live in dignity

Hong Kong should help refugees live in dignity

Statistics about the number of refugees in the world tend to be mind-numbing. They do not do justice to their precarious plight. A simple example does it better, such as a letter from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Hong Kong crying poor.

5 Mar 2013 - 6:22am 2 comments

Letters to the Editor, March 1, 2013

Model of Xiqu Centre at the arts hub. Photo: Sam Tsang

I read with shock the news that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Hong Kong is axing the HK$500 a month it currently pays out to refugees. How can this be? Is the UNHCR broke?

1 Mar 2013 - 3:32am

UNHCR axes all aid for HK refugees in budget cuts

Philip Karani. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

In a shock move, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Hong Kong (UNHCR) has announced that it will cut all financial aid to recognised refugees living here.

There are 132 people with official refugee status in Hong Kong. Each one receives HK$500 from the UNHCR per month. But this will now be stopped from June.

27 Feb 2013 - 4:29am

Fairer refugee processing would benefit Hong Kong

Vision First, a refugee-initiated advocacy group, puts the number of refugees in Hong Kong at 666. Photo: David Wong

Whether it is stories of refugee children unable to attend school, families unable to pay rent, complaints about the slow processing of asylum-seeker status or the seemingly inadequate government support provided, Hong Kong's refugees often find their way into the media. Refugees are now a permanent feature of our multicultural landscape.

3 Jan 2013 - 5:21am 2 comments

Afghan refugees shiver at another deadly winter

Afghan women with their children line-up to get winter supplies in Kabul. Over a third of Afghans are living in abject poverty, according to a UN report. Photo: AFP

Hundreds of families living in makeshift shelters around the Afghan capital collected blankets, charcoal and other supplies as authorities struggle to avoid a repeat of last winter’s deaths.

2 Jan 2013 - 9:38pm

Hong Kong's do-little policy on refugees must end

Expose frustration refugees have with the UNHCR's work in Hong Kong. Photo: David Wong

The government's obdurate refusal to grant any concessions in its treatment of a very small number of legitimate refugees has become a festering wound in its desire for Hong Kong to live up to its "developed nation" status.

1 Jan 2013 - 3:17am 1 comment

Adopting refugee convention would not be a slippery slope for Hong Kong

Sam, Raymond and Yuref -- expose frustration refugees have with the UNHCR's work in Hong Kong. Photo: David Wong

Imagine looking out over the Shenzhen River and seeing thousands of people at the border, trying to get into Hong Kong. Many, if not most, have been persecuted, because of their religion, or their political opinion, or even just their family name. They want to come to Hong Kong not only for a better life, but also, in many cases, for any life at all. What would the Hong Kong government do?

27 Dec 2012 - 3:09am 1 comment

Hong Kong should not turn its back on asylum seekers

Refugees feel frustrated with the UNHCR. Photo: David Wong

Unlike other places, where asylum seekers still pose great challenges to society, Hong Kong, thankfully, moved on decades ago from being a haven for Vietnamese fleeing political turmoil. Today, refugees and torture claimants do not make headlines as often as they once did. But that does not mean they no longer warrant our care and attention.

7 Dec 2012 - 8:47am 1 comment

New UNHCR head urges Hong Kong to protect refugees and asylum seekers

UNHCR commissioner Philip Karani

The new head of the UNHCR in Hong Kong has made an unusually forceful call for the government to take responsibility for protecting refugees in the city.

"There is no doubt that Hong Kong has the capacity and resources to do more than it's doing at the moment," Philip Karani said in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Morning Post.

2 Dec 2012 - 3:34am 3 comments