Homeless number has increased by an estimated 20 percent since the coronavirus outbreak began in January
Oblate Father John Wotherspoon seen (standing) with McRefugees at one of the Thursday Dinners that his charity group MercyHK hosts for Refugees in the city in this 2018 picture. (UCA News file picture)
Church people are seeking ways to house hundreds who are sleeping on the streets of Hong Kong after a fast food chain decided to close its 24-hour restaurants as part of coronavirus containment.The move came after the administration refused to find shelter for the "McRefugees" or "McSleepers," so nicknamed because they spent nights in the 24-hour McDonald's outlets in several Hong Kong districts. However, the McRefugees lost their shelter when the multinational chain decided to close all its outlets at 6pm from March 25 as a measure against spreading coronavirus.
Get the latest from UCA News. Sign-up to receive our daily newsletter
The Labour Department promised to follow up on the matter without specifying any action."They don't have a policy that defines which department is responsible for McRefugees. The government is insensitive to them and continues to pass the buck around departments," Lai said.Lai said he had approached several people to find shelter for the homeless. Some people are renting cheap hotel rooms for a few days but "that's only a temporary arrangement."Father Wotherspoon said some McRefugees are old and weak and could easily contract the coronavirus if exposed to the streets without proper shelter and hygiene.He said he knows some 70 McRefugees and one is an 85-year-old woman. "She spends nights under an overpass in the city. I'm most worried about her situation," the Australian missionary said.He said fast food restaurants were not the safest place to sleep as visitors from affected countries visit them. The homeless could be infected if they came into contact with them. "But it was safer than the streets," the priest said.Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam had promised to walk with the people. If she meant it, she should understand the issue of McRefugees and deal with it in a "more humane manner," Lai said.Lai said the government has funds to take care of such people but does not have clarity of policy. It is the government's responsibility, he said.However, some parishes, groups or individuals have rented hostels or opened up their own houses to provide temporary accommodation for McRefugees."Behind the prosperity of our society, there are still many people sleeping on the streets," said Lai, who urged the community to wake up to the plight of the homeless and help them live with human dignity.
The Church in Asia needs objective and independent journalism to speak the truth about the Church and the state. With a network of professionally qualified journalists and editors across Asia, UCA News is all about this mission.
Share your comments
The diocese of Pingliang covers the cities of Pingliang and Qingyang. There are 2 districts and 13 some counties under
With a land area of 10,103.4 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers civil districts of Mumbai City, Mumbai
In a land area of 8,129.8 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the entire civil Provinces of Davao del
Saint Francis Xavier Cathedral in Hyderabad is a British-colonial-era religious landmark in...
St. Mary’s Cathedral Church in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state, is the mother church in...
St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi is a French colonial-era landmark and one of...