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Change in form of service by the Project of Administering and Delivery of Assistance for Non-Refoulement Claimants (NRC) during the 5th wave of COVID-19 pandemic

International Social Service Hong Kong (ISS-HK) has continued to provide humanitarian assistance to NRCs throughout the 5th wave of COVID-19 pandemic. The three ISS-HK service centres serving NRCs located in Kwun Tong, Prince Edward and Tuen Mun have remained open except during temporary closure for disinfection (usually lasting one or two days) after visits by persons confirmed COVID-19 positive.

To facilitate the NRCs to stay home and avoid travelling as well as to minimise the gathering of crowds, all visits to service centres are by appointment only, and ISS-HK staff has been conducting the renewal of eligibility for assistance (aka contract renewal) of NRCs via phone since 8 February 2022.  Renewals of contracts by phone are basically the same as face-to-face ones. Upon confirming the identity of service users, our staff top-up their supermarket e-food cards via the computer system. This ensures that the assistance received by service users remains unchanged.  Assistance on accommodation is handled in face-to-face appointments as before. During phone contract renewal, staff enquire about the conditions of service users, and arrange visits to service centres for them to acquire transport allowance handed out in cash, in-kind toiletries and other forms of assistance as soon as possible should they have any urgent need.

Over 12,000 service users completed their monthly contract renewal in Febraury 2022, receiving their assistance on food, utilities, accommodation and daily necessities. ISS-HK is currently increasing the quota for face-to-face appointments to serve more service users with urgent needs.

ISS-HK has been reaching out to service users to inform them of the change in from of service provided since 9 February. Notices with hotline numbers  in different languages have been put up in service centres and our Agency website ( If no one could pick up the phone, service users can leave a message via whatsapp for staff to reply later on.

ISS-HK was aware of the panic buying in supermarkets in early March and the impact it may have on non-refoulement claimants (NRCs). A contingency plan was launched to ensure that all three NRC service centres are able to provide emergency food items  should there be any need for them as a result of food shortage in supermarkets. As of 17 March, there has not been a surge in such requests, and the few who made them were granted with what was needed.

Despite the tight manpower due to the pandemic, our staff has been doing their best in providing assistance to service users, including those who are required to quarantine at home, providing them with government information on latest pandemic measures and relevant contact information of the Home Affairs Department, assisting service users with critical illnesses (such as cancer) to collect medicine from hospitals and deliver them to their homes, and assisting them in checking whether they have completed their quarantine requirement. If service users live in premises that require compulsory testing, we also try to inform them in advance to offer timely advice. ISS-HK has also been arranging service users to take the COVID-19 vaccination since July 2021.

ISS-HK will remain steadfast in the provision of humanitarian assistance to service users amidst the severe pandemic situation.

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