Hong Kong legislator Fernando Cheung is one of the few politicians trying to help. He first visited Ping Che in February and describes the sight as "shameful."
Cheung immediately demanded a special meeting with the Hong Kong Security Bureau to voice his concerns, but was rejected. "They are trying to evade the problem," he says.
Unsatisfied, Cheung believes that government inaction jeopardizes Hong Kong's international reputation. "The government wants to project Hong Kong as a world-class city with advanced systems. They want investment.
"But the city is in many ways a façade," he says. "On the outside, it's got nice decorations. But if you look inside, it's empty -- there's no heart."
There has been minor progress. Late last year, court rulings determined that Hong Kong's refugee screening systems were incomplete. In June, the government announced a new system, which will screen not just torture claimants but all sufferers of persecution and cruel treatment. "It's a step in the right direction," says Cheung.
But there are no improvements planned for refugee welfare -- which is the most urgently needed reform. A provision allowing refugees to seek employment would raise living conditions immeasurably, but this seems a remote possibility at best. If things don't improve soon, Hong Kong's treatment of refugees will continue to fall short of the international standards it claims to embrace, and Ping Che will continue to wither.
Advocates say change is possible but only if people understand what the refugees are going through.
"Being an asylum seeker, refugee, or torture claimant is not a choice people make," says Allen. "Some seismic event has just turned that person's life upside down. If they could just go home and be safe, they would -- but they can't. It's important to remember it could be you -- it could be me -- it could happen any second."
As for Salim, all he wants is an opportunity for dignity.
"In the United States, Canada, Australia, they give people a chance," he says. "It is 2013. We should give a chance to everyone."