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Helping Newcomers Find a Niche

With 50,000 mainly Chinese mainland immigrants settling in Hong Kong every year, the Home Affairs Department strives to spur racial harmony and early integration of new arrivals into society.

"Helping the people in need and they will help Hong Kong in return," said Shelley Lee, permanent secretary for Home Affairs yesterday during a visit to Lady Maclehose Centre and Login Club for new arrivals.

The department will hold an overall consultation early next year to discuss issues related to minorities and new arrivals, aimed at tackling discrimination, Lee added.

A series of civic-education activities will be provided next year.

The department has been co-ordinating with other government departments and non-government organizations (NGOs) to provide community services, including Cantonese and English lessons, as well as job training.

"We have meetings every two months with NGOs such as the Jockey Club to ask for donations," Lee said.

Despite the government's effort, some new immigrants complained that they still face discrimination in society. Viable opportunities in education and employment are still insufficient.

Lee pledged to improve this situation and reiterated that she visits the community centres on a regular basis to monitor the effectiveness of the services.

"We are committed to making Hong Kong a caring and harmonious society. Rich culture and diversity makes Hong Kong successful."

She was presented with a headscarf by Pakistani women at the centre.

(China Daily HK Edition November 13, 2003)

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