Gyeonggi-do completes payment of disaster relief funds to foreign residents: ‘We will continue to strive for the realization a fair world without discrimination’

Createdd 2021-05-17 Hit 28

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○ Gyeonggi was the first local autonomy in Korea to make universal disaster relief payments to registered foreigners (including those who filed residence reports)
– Regardless of income level, the provincial government made a KRW100,000 payment to every foreign resident, an amount equal to that received by Korean residents.
○ Gyeonggi will continue its efforts to ensure that foreign workers, who are also contributors to the national economy, receive fair treatment.

The current Gyeonggi provincial administration completed the 2nd round of disaster relief payments to all provincial residents including registered foreign residents, focusing its efforts on the creation of an environment in which foreign residents and Korean residents receive fair treatment without discrimination despite the COVID-19 crisis.

According to Gyeonggi-do on May 17, the province received applications from registered foreign residents with addresses in the province (including Koreans with foreign nationality) during a 30-day period starting on April 1, and provided a disaster relief payment of KRW100,000 per person to 407,600 foreign residents.

As of January 19, when the province announced its disaster relief payment plan, there were 570,000 registered foreign residents in Gyeonggi-do. Excluding those ineligible for the payment due to sojourn expiration, sojourn extension, residence status, and so on, 90.6% of the province’s foreign residents received the disaster relief payment.

The province produced an information video in 13 different languages, and publicized the policy through various channels such as text messages, mailings, and calls in order to ensure that more foreign residents could benefit from the disaster relief payment. In addition, the province made special arrangements to receive applications even on weekends at local administrative welfare centers in 24 cities and counties including Suwon City.

Although other countries have also provided COVID-19 stimulus payments to registered foreigners – such as Germany, Canada, the United States, and Japan – Gyeonggi-do became the first and only local autonomy in Korea to provide universal disaster relief payments to registered foreigners regardless of income level.

For this reason, Gyeonggi-do is deemed to be a leading advocate for the improvement of foreign resident rights and interests at the local government level.

In addition, some say that Gyeonggi-do is paving the way for foreign residents to continue their contributions to the local economy by providing disaster relief payments in the form of ‘local currency.’

As well as the provision of disaster relief payments, the provincial government launched its newly formed Foreign Resident Policy Division in July 2019, and has been endeavoring to develop new policies and programs – such as personal and legal counseling services, Korean language classes, occupational development classes, and so on – to help foreign residents lead stable lives in Korea.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year Gyeonggi-do is working on a new project to implement practical environmental improvements for foreign residents in blind spots while promoting their rights and interests.

First, it plans to launch the ‘foreign resident shelter improvement project’ so as to improve the poor conditions of temporary residence shelters. As part of this project, the province will repair and replace deteriorated safety facilities at 15 shelters, and support the repair of fixtures such as flooring and wallpaper. It will also run a ‘rural area foreign worker support program’ that will provide on-site counseling and contactless consultations in order to eliminate neglected areas in terms of labor rights.

Building upon the establishment of fundamental policies to aid the settlement of foreign workers and promote their rights and interests, the province will focus on measures that facilitate mutual respect and communication between foreign and Korean residents, and develop and retain foreign personnel as part of a new industrial growth engine.

Hong Dong-gi, Director of the Foreign Resident Policy Division, said, “Foreign workers are valuable human resources that support our industries in small- and medium-sized enterprises and at agricultural sites. We will strive to formulate policies and implement institutional improvements that will ensure safe environments and fair treatment for foreign workers, and encourage the long-term stay of skilled foreigners.”

Meanwhile, the disaster relief payments are set to expire on June 30, with unused balances being recoverable by the provincial government. The disaster relief payments are provided in the form of local currency that is accepted by affiliated local stores but cannot be used at department stores, hypermarkets, adult entertainment establishments, or gambling establishments.