Reports to the Regional Office in Beijing and covers UNHCR’s interests and activities in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in the Macau Special Administrative Region.
Some of the hundreds of UNHCR tents delivered to the transit camp being built by the authorities and NGOs at Garmawa, near Duhok. / UNHCR/ S. Baldwin / June 2014
UNHCR Sub-Office Hong Kong SAR China (“SOHK”) is one office in our global network providing vital assistance to refugees and other persons of concern in more than 120 countries around the world. The Sub-Office in Hong Kong reports to the Regional Office in Beijing and covers UNHCR’s interests and activities in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China and in the Macau Special Administrative Region, China. Although the People’s Republic of China is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, this status has not been extended to Hong Kong.
The permanent office of the UNHCR in Hong Kong was established in 1979 to cope with the influx of Vietnamese boat people. At first, the main objective of this office was to help the Vietnamese refugees, but over time, the goal changed to include anyone who arrives in Hong Kong seeking asylum. Because Hong Kong is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and has no legal framework governing the granting of asylum UNHCR carried the main responsibility for refugee status determination, assistance to asylum-seekers and refugees, as well as the identification and promotion of durable solutions under its mandate. Until 3 March 2014, mandate refugee status determination was implemented in accordance with the Procedural Standards in a complex operation with Applicants from approximately 47 countries.
On 25 March 2013, the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG) found that the Director of Immigration has a duty to screen non-refoulement claims on grounds of, amongst other things, persecution risk (drawing reference to the principle of non-refoulement in Article 33 of the 1951 Refugee Convention) before execution of removal / deportation of the claimant from Hong Kong to another country of putative persecution.
The Hong Kong government launched a Unified Screening Mechanism (USM) to screen non-refoulement claims on 3 March 2014. The Unified Screening Mechanism is the process the Hong Kong Government uses to screen all those claims lodged by persons who fear such harm upon return to their country of origin.
For further information on the USM, please refer to: Unified Screening Procedures
For more information on the changes please refer to the corresponding FAQ section by clicking here.
The USM is operated by the Government, not UNHCR. Upon the commencement of the USM the UNHCR ceased refugee status determination procedures in Hong Kong and transitioned to an advisory and capacity building role, marking a major development in the agency’s goals under its mandate.
Although UNHCR’s role in Hong Kong has changed, there are no plans to close the UNHCR Hong Kong office in the foreseeable future. In Hong Kong as in many countries, UNHCR staff will continue to work alongside other partners in a variety of areas. Together they attempt to promote or provide legal and physical protection, and safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.
In case of emergency you should go to the Accident & Emergency Department (A&E) of the nearest Hong Kong Government hospital, or dial “999” for an ambulance.
For physical protection, or if you encounter life threatening emergencies, please approach the nearest Hong Kong Police Station for protection, or dial “999” for urgent police assistance.
Address: 1/F, Eaton House, 380 Nathan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Main Line: (+852) 2780 9271
Emergency No.: (+852) 9104 9471
Email: [email protected]