Name: TSE Wai Lun Veronique
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Position: Protection Intern, UNHCR Sub-Office Hong Kong
Duration: July 2019 - January 2020 (6 months)
Sponsorship: United Nations Peace Development Foundation
Supervisor: Philip Thorpe
To begin with, I would like to thank my supervisor, Philip and my teammates, Michael, David and Cindy for all the guidance and help you have offered. And great thanks to the donors and UNPDF for making the internship possible.
The protection team in Hong Kong is a relatively small one, normally we only have three people in the team (four is the max). As an intern there, I have a chance to participate/get involved in most of the protection-related matters. For routine tasks, (my fellows) and I were responsible for the communication with POCs, asylum seekers and parties interested in refugee issues. We responded to the emails and calls from our POCs (both refugees under UNHCR mandate and substantiated Unified Screening Mechanism (USM) claimants) and people seeking asylum in Hong Kong, and offered advice and help in time. Even though now our team no longer offer routine appointments due to the small team size, sometimes, some asylum seekers would still come straight at our door requesting help, we would help explaining the current situation to them (i.e. UNHCR in Hong Kong has ceased to conduct refugee status determination in Hong Kong after 2014, the government (USM) is responsible instead) and would then advise them what procedure to follow to seek asylum in Hong Kong.
And as more and more collaboration was encouraged, we also helped liaison with NGOs and human rights law firms which were interested in refugee related matter, and we would sometimes join the meetings in which we would brief one another on recent works and see what more cooperation/improvement would be made possible in the future. Me and my fellows also conducted a few presentations about our office/POCs to them.
And, our team also launched the Protection and Solution Review meeting with our POCs who have been long stuck in Hong Kong last year. Through the meeting, we would understand their current situation in Hong Kong and their corresponding needs, we would then identify other alternative solutions for them e.g. to help them applying work permits in Hong Kong, to introduce them the private sponsorship programs of third countries etc. Me and my fellows had a chance to participate in those meetings, and after which, we would draft and send out the action plans which list out the actions for us and for the POCs to take in order to move forward.
We also helped preparing monthly-updated statistics/POCs list/graphs to share with our team, Beijing office and Immigration Department. And, once again, due to the small size of our team, we also get a chance to involve in admin tasks e.g. quotation, procurement etc. Not only did we have an opportunity to participate in different events e.g. the event held by Clifford Chance to bring NGOs and private sector together, me and David as interns also got to organize events. The Community Practice Lunch held in December last year was an informal networking opportunity and a chance to reflect on our engagement in the year that has passed and exchange ideas for best practice in the year ahead. And two of us were also responsible for organizing annual outing for our Hong Kong office in December, which comprised of two parts: volunteering at Food Angel (local NGO rescues edible surplus food to prepare meals to serve the underprivileged in Hong Kong) and team building activities at Whitehead (it was once a refugee camp).
All in all, I am grateful for every opportunity I have been given in this internship. I have learnt a great deal regarding the refugee issue and how the Hong Kong asylum seeking system. Before this internship, I had already been volunteering in refugee centre, this internship brought a completely new perspective to me, which is definitely going to affect my career path in the future.
Group photo after presentation to Daly & Associates
Group photo at Food Angel
Group photo at Whitehead