Originally from Sri Lanka, Brian* arrived Hong Kong in 2005.
In 2008, he received refugee status in Hong Kong. In 2009, UNHCR applied for Brian to resettle in the US but was rejected and consequently in 2011, his resettlement application was rejected by Sweden. As of present, Brian still has no country to call home.
International Social Service (ISS) offers a HK$1500 rental assistance which is insufficient for a family’s accommodation needs. He and his family used to live in Yuen Long where rent was manageable, nevertheless, the landlord increased their rent from HK$1200 to HK$3000 when they found out the amount that ISS was assisting.
Additionally, Brian faces racial discrimination during his search for accommodation. Some landlords are reluctant to lease to tenants with darker skin colour. As it is not easy for Brian to find accommodation, he had to seek help from members of the church or from the Chinese community. He was also mistreated when he visited several real estate agencies. On top of that, ISS also requires ample documentation which many landlords find cumbersome.
Brian often feels heartache and stress due to his refugee status, “my police records are clean and I have never given anybody any problem”, he is merely looking for a place that is safe for both him and his family.
In most cases, accommodation that was freely offered was less than satisfactory and is on a first come first served basis. A case officer once contacted him regarding an accommodation at Lantau but the rent was beyond their budget in which the family simply cannot afford. For the safety of his family, he constantly makes tough decisions.
Aside from the hurdles in terms of accommodation, his family has a need for frequent doctor visits.
Whenever a doctor’s appointment is called for, ISS requires them to check in with the agency a day before the medical appointment for social welfare assistance. A normal visit to the social welfare department may take three to four hours’ wait. Since a compulsory documentation is required for the doctor’s appointment, the wait is inevitable. Due to his wife’s medical condition, it creates extra stress for her recovery.
Often times, the lack of knowledge from medical staff regarding the management of refugee appointments complicates the process, making it repetitive and time-consuming.
Brian understands that some people take advantage of the system but authorities should not view every situation as a collective case. He also faces prejudice from some and he urges people to be just and fair.
Brian is weary about his future, with no country to call home and no prospect of a quality life.
*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals