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May 30, 2013


Hong Kong Should Uphold the Right to Work for Urban Refugees

by Asylum Access

Last month, the Hong Kong Refugee Advice Center (HKRAC) published an OpEd entitled “Don’t Starve Refugees of the Fruit of Honest Labour,” highlighting the need for employment among Hong Kong’s refugee population.

The Asia Pacific region is home to one third of the world’s refugee population. Although many of the Asian states within the region are signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its accessory Protocol, a number of these countries remain resistant to its implementation. Efforts made by UNHCR to promote a more favorable environment for the protection of refugees in the region has been widely challenged by States due to lack of proper information about population displacement, inability to offer adequate refugee protection and national security issue.

As an autonomous region of China, Hong Kong maintains control over all immigration matters and thereby retains the sole right to adopt her own policies and laws with regard to refugees. Although China is a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the Convention does not extend to Hong Kong. The situation is worsened by the fact that Hong Kong has not adopted any legislation addressing refugees, including any laws that afford them the right to work and support themselves.

Denying refugees legal access to the labor market makes the prone to exploitation and prevents them from living a self-reliant, dignified and meaningful life. Denying such a fundamental human right means forcing refugees to depend on others and unable to utilize their valuable and untapped skills.

For a better understanding of the situation of refugees in Hong Kong, be sure to take a look at the online article by HKRAC  Available here.

Intro By: Tadios Belay

Tadios Belay is the International Law and Policy Intern at Asylum Access. He previously studied law in Ethiopia and currently enrolled in Master of laws Program in International Human Rights Law at the University of San Francisco (USF), School of Law.

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