Help like that given to Chinese in need is urged for others Rights advocates have called on the government to extend the same compassion and aid to non-Chinese refugees and asylum seekers as it did to the Solomon Islands evacuees. Thirty-nine ethnic Chinese arrived in Hong Kong late last month after fleeing attacks against Chinese businesses in the Solomons. Of those, the 20 who were not Hong Kong residents were granted three-month visa waivers. All were granted an $8,000 cash allowance and offered psychological counselling. But the government refuses to provide temporary visa waivers or cash allowances to asylum seekers, refugees and torture claimants of other nationalities. Human rights and refugee lawyer Mark Daly said such a discrepancy was discriminatory. 'It certainly shows Hong Kong knows what is necessary to assist asylum seekers,' he said. 'But the immediate cash assistance and the psychological counselling are not being provided to asylum seekers from other places. We would like to see the same offered to others.' There have been several judicial reviews against the government by destitute torture claimants who have had to wait for years for the final resolution of their claims but have had to fend for themselves, without the right to work. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Hong Kong has been urging the government to provide some form of temporary visas to asylum seekers, a request consistently refused. Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai said help should be extended to all distressed people who land in Hong Kong, whether or not they are 'connected' through relatives to the city. A Security Bureau spokesman said the visa waivers were granted under the discretionary power of the director of immigration, taking into consideration the circumstances of the case and compassionate factors. Mr Law said: 'I hope this is the kind of compassionate attitude we can extend towards people in distress, not simply helping your relatives and ignoring others.' Asked whether similar assistance would be rendered to asylum seekers and refugees from other countries and ethnic groups in Hong Kong, the spokesman said the government had a firm policy of not granting asylum. The director of immigration may, on a case-by-case basis, exercise his discretion to grant release on recognisance to those seeking refugee status or refugees mandated by the UNHCR's Hong Kong office, pending determination of their status.