For nine years, Yaovi and Nayo have been scavenging for food, looking for work they couldn’t have and living each day in hell.
They came to Hong Kong, hoping to start a new life, after fleeing their native Togo, a troubled West African country. They were forced to leave a regime that persecuted its own people after refusing to help rig an election.
But the Hong Kong Yaovi and Nayo came upon offered little hope of redemption. With an uncertain status, they were not allowed to work. That led to a new set of problems and hardship.
They slept under flyovers and ate rotten bread out of dumpsters. They relied on a subsidy that was barely enough for them to live with dignity.
But their lives are about to change.
Half a world away, Canada has offered them refugee status, the first step in a journey they hope would lead to asylum.
The wheels were set in train when Yaovi met his Canadian wife in Hong Kong. With the help of her family in Canada and lawyers in Hong Kong, Yaovi and Nayo convinced the Canadian government to hear their asylum application, a seven-month process, Apple Daily reported Monday.
The two will move to Canada next month but even with the prospect of a better life within reach, Yaovi can’t wait to leave Hong Kong.
“If there is a hell, our lives in Hong Kong were worse than hell,” Yaovi said.
Human rights lawyer Mark Dely urged the Hong Kong government to speed up approval procedures for refugees and reform its refugee policy.
The Immigration Department has nearly 8,000 pending cases involving refugees seeking protection from being returned to their persecutors.
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