Kuwait Local Time

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New law on anvil may grant citizenship to Bedouins

The Kuwaiti MP is compelling the government to approve legislation which would grant citizenship to a particular number of stateless people every year, aimed at reducing the high number of Bedouins in the country.

Last year, the government doubled the number of people which would be naturalised every year from 2000 to 4000. But, no new citizenships were granted to Bedouins last year.

The illegal status of Bedouins, majority of them, being born in Kuwait, and also have ancestors who have lived there for decades, have also posed problems for government departments that hire them.

The defence and interior departments have been ordered to replace terminology referring to stateless people as ‘non-Kuwaiti illegal residents’ and avoid any legal challenge over their employment.

It is estimated that more than 100,000 stateless people live in Kuwait, and this implies that they do not have social or civil rights.

The Central Apparatus for Illegal Residents was established in 2010 and given a five-year deadline to deal with the problem, including introducing new benefits for stateless people such as right to marriage, death or birth certificates and driver’s licence and identifying those that could be given citizenship.

Qualification to be granted nationality includes having an ancestor who served in Kuwaiti military or having a Kuwaiti mother. Those with Kuwaiti father usually qualify at birth.

The government estimates that there are nearly 34,000 bedouins that meet the criteria.

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