Covid-19: Panic buying leaves Hong Kong’s refugees with little to eat, as fifth wave sends food prices soaring

March 4, 2022 by No Comments

Mariam* has visited Hong Kong supermarket ParknShop three times this week for tomatoes, carrots and bread. The first time she went, she could not find anything she was looking for. The second time, there were tomatoes but they were too expensive, so she left empty-handed. When she went for the third time, at 3.20 p.m. on Wednesday, the supermarket was closed. 

Mariam was not alone in being met with bare aisles this week, as Hongkongers panic bought amid the possibility of a citywide lockdown to contain the surging fifth wave of Covid-19. But unlike other Hongkongers, Mariam could not simply try another supermarket or a wet market. As a refugee, Mariam’s options are limited.  

A refugee finds shelves empty in a Hong Kong supermarket on March 3, 2022. Photo: Justice Centre Hong Kong

According to non-profit human rights organisation Justice Centre Hong Kong, there are roughly 14,000 refugees in the city. Considered illegal immigrants by the government, the community has no right to work and no earning capacity. “Always, we depend on begging,” Mariam said. 

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