Manama: More than 7,000 people living illegally in Kuwait, also known as Bidoon (stateless) have adjusted their legal status between 2011 and August 2015 by declaring their original nationalities.
According to the Central Apparatus for Illegal Residents’ Affairs, 4,973 out of the 7,039 residents regularised their status by announcing the Saudi nationality, 778 the Iraqi nationality, 726 the Syrian nationality, 79 the Iranian nationality, 47 the Jordanian nationality and 436 other nationalities, the director of the agency for status adjustment Colonel Mohammad Al Wuhaib told Kuwait News Agency (Kuna).
Kuwait, which formerly referred to the stateless as “bidoon”, now classifies them as “illegal residents”.
Kuwait has been looking into ways to address the issue of the approximately 105,000 stateless residents who have been seeking Kuwaiti citizenship as well as civil and social rights that they do not have given their “illegal” status.
However, the government said that only 34,000 qualified for consideration while the rest are Arabs or descendants of Arab people who moved to Kuwait following the discovery of oil and deliberately disposed their original passports to seek citizenship in the oil-rich country, Kuwaiti media reported.
In 2010, in a new effort to find a solution to the issue and determine those who deserved the citizenship, - including residents whose stateless parents failed to register for citizenship following Kuwait’s independence in 1961 - Kuwait set up the Central Apparatus for Illegal Residents.
The agency provides a package of incentives to illegal residents who adjust their legal status and declare their original nationalities.
Benefits include granting all family members a renewable five-year residency permit with no fees incurred, free-of-charge education and health services, supply cards, and priority recruitment after Kuwaiti nationals in public agencies and bodies and smoother procedures for driving licences, Kuna said.
In 2014, a plan to offer stateless people citizenship of the African nation of Comoros to help settle the social, economic and political issue was criticised by lawmakers.
Under the plan, the illegal residents obtain the economic citizenship of the Comoros islands that would give them the rights to reside in Kuwait under Article 22 (self-sponsorship), to free education and health care, and to employment.
Family heads would receive a passport and nationality, while the children would be given original Comorian nationalities and passports, he added.
According to the accord, Kuwait will fulfil the Comoran condition to build schools, institutes and houses on the islands and open a branch of the Zakat House.
Kuwait would not deport any naturalised Comorian without a court order. The deported would have the rights to housing, health care and education provided by the Kuwaiti government.