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Dilemma in HK’s stateless kids

The number of stateless children born to refugees is growing in Hong Kong, where claims from asylum seekers have more than tripled in the last two years, alarming residents and lawmakers.

While Europe grapples with an influx of people desperate to escape fighting in Syria, asylum seekers from Asian nations such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Vietnam are flocking to Hong Kong, along with a sprinkling from Africa.

But human rights activists and non-government bodies accuse authorities in the Chinese-ruled city of dragging their feet on the approval of claims, to avoid spurring a further influx.

Hong Kong has approved just 52 of more than 8,000 claims since 2009. There are more than 11,000 asylum seekers in the Asian financial hub, some still uncertain about their fate after waiting for more than 15 years.

“Our future is already gone, so we are thinking of our kids’ future,” said Adjouma Ibrahim, chairman of the Refugee Union, who has been in Hong Kong for 11 years.

“Our kids are stateless. We don’t have travel documents – nothing,”

Ibrahim is from Togo in west Africa, and his son and daughter, despite both having been born in Hong Kong, are among the more than 580 refugee children denied the right of abode, making it impossible for young people to get jobs or leave. (Reuters)