The area of Hong Kong is 410 square miles, roughly 20 miles by 20.5 miles, and yet the population today is nearly 6.7 million.
You will have noticed that there is a marked jump between the years 1931 to 1941, from 500000 to 1600000 (0.5 million to 1.6 million), this was because of the China-Japan war, and many refugees escaped to Hong Kong.
After Pearl Harbour, Japan quickly overran Hong Kong, and once it conquered Hong Kong, it deported people back to Canton, and the population dropped to 600000 (0.6 million) in 1944.
After Japan surrendered, people returned to Hong Kong, and the population jumped back to 1800000 (1.8 million) in 1947.
Now, in the year 2001, we have a population of 6.7 million, on a land of no more than 20 miles by 20.5 miles.
People who arrived here built wooden huts on whatever empty space they could find. But there was always the danger of plague (infected by mice), and fire (because of the over-crowdedness and the huts were built of wood and zinc-plated iron sheet), and refuse contaminating the environment.
In 1953, there was a big fire, and 50000 people were made homeless overnight. Sir Alexander Grantham was Governor of Hong Kong then, and he was a good man. He immediately set up a "Resettlement Department" and put a very capable civil-engineer in charge, who had a mind to work and would not be hindered by red-tape. In a very short time, 7-storey resettlement blocks were built to house the people (see fig.). Rent was very low, affordable by the poor in general.
The rooms and living condition, though primitive, were much better than wooden huts which suffered from leaks and damage from typhoon, and were welcomed by the people.
Over the years, the design has improved a lot, and now, nearly all rooms have self-contained toilet and bathroom.
Hong Kong sheltered 200,000 Vietnamese Refugees too, apart from refugees from China.
Many Governments are reluctant to accept refugees, because of the financial and administrative difficulties in providing "welfare and social services". They may learn from Hong Kong.
Give the refugees a piece of land (Hong Kong is no more than 20 miles by 20.5 miles !), and let them fare for themselves. But allow all international religious organizations to help them. Let them set up a government of their own, and have their own law (preferably LORD's Laws and not Roman Law.) and let them organize themselves like Moses when he led the Israelites out of Egypt, a 600,000 men exodus!
Lend money to them, charge them moderate interest (say 5%, and not too much!) and require payment within, say, 30 years. They are lot of wealthy people in this world, who have plenty of money to invest. If banks are unwilling to lend, let those investors lend. I am sure the refugees are capable of repayment.
The refugees themselves may use this borrowed money to build reservoirs to provide water, to build incinerators to burn the refuse to avoid contaminating the environment, to buy generators to provide electricity (may be small scale first), .... , to build up their infra-structure.
Manufacturing capacities are great nowadays, (and China is opening up its vast North-West Region, with more production capacities to come), and the refugees can absorb lot of manufactured goods. It is a pity to see Afghan refugees with no TV set, no refrigerator, no personal computers, no cookers, no .... when Japanese companies and worldwide big companies have excessive capacities, and the world is said to be in recession after the World Trade Center Tragedy !
What is good to the refugees is good to the whole world. Let all countries be generous in accepting refugees.
Wu Siu Yan
1st October, 2001
Vietnamese refugees inside a 35-meter vessel when it arrived in Hong Kong in 1980.
Hong Kong Government made them bathe themselves. Notice the boats full of people.