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Kuwait may grant citizenship to 34,000 illegal residents

The Gulf state of Kuwait, currently home to 105,000 stateless people (illegal residents), has announced that it may grant citizenship to 34,000 of them, the Head of a government authority monitoring their affairs said.

The Head of Central Agency for illegal residents, Saleh al-Fadhalah, said that a recommendation to grant citizenship to 34,000 stateless people will be implemented.

The official said that a lasting solution for illegal residents will be implemented over the next five years. Fadhalah further said that his agency has established that among the 71,000 illegal residents are Iraqis, Iranians, Saudis, Syrians and others. They will, however, have to produce their nationality papers to be offered legal residence permits.

Kuwait has so far claimed that these illegal residents or their ancestors destroyed their original passports to claim the right to Kuwaiti nationality in order to gain access to the various benefits and services that Kuwait offers to its nationals.

Kuwait has denied them essential documentation including birth, marriage and death certificates, in order to force them to produce their original nationality papers.

Several hundreds of illegal residents staged demonstrations during February and March this year, and over the past two weeks ago, to demand their citizenship and other rights, including right to work. Fifty-two illegal residents are on trial for illegal assembly and assaulting police, while another thirty were arrested and are questioned by prosecutors.

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