A member of the Kuwaiti Al-Azmi Bedouin tribe holds on to his hunting falcon at a camp close to Kuwait's north eastern border with Iraq . Falconry has been an integral part of the tribal culture in the Gulf state for centuries. Image Credit: AP

Manama: Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Sabah Al Khalid has denied the existence of an agreement with Comoros to grant its nationality to the nation’s bidoon population.

Bidoon means stateless, but Kuwait now classifies them as “illegal residents”.

Answering a query by Lawmaker Faysal Al Dawsan, the minister said that international talks are regularly held in the United Nations to discuss the situation of the people who are staying illegally in Kuwait and commitments to the human rights covenants, Kuwaiti media reported on Monday.

Kuwait has been looking into ways to address the issue of the approximately 105,000 stateless residents who have been seeking Kuwaiti citizenship.

The government said only 34,000 qualified for consideration while the rest were Arabs or descendants of Arab people who moved to Kuwait following the discovery of oil and deliberately got rid of their original passports to seek citizenship in the oil-rich country.

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 children would be given original Comoran nationalities and passports.

According to the plan, Kuwait would 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 Comoran without a court order.

Anyone deported would have the rights to housing, health care and education provided by the Kuwaiti government.

In October, Kuwaiti authorities said 7,243 illegal residents had regularised their status in the country since 2011.

Mohammad Al Wuhaib, the director of the agency for status adjustment at the Central Apparatus for Illegal Residents’ Affairs, said that the illegal residents have reverted to their Saudi, Iraqi, Iranian, Jordanian and other nationalities.

“All illegal residents who are yet to adjust their status in the country are advised to visit the headquarters of the central apparatus to take the necessary measures,” he said.

Al Wuhaib said that those complying with the law will be given residency visas that could be renewed every five years in addition to health care, education and ration card.

Other privileges such as priority in employment after Kuwaiti nationals and the facilitation of procedures for obtaining driver licences will also apply upon adjustment of their status, he added.

In September, the authorities said 7,039 people living illegally in Kuwait had adjusted their status up to August 2015 by declaring their original nationalities.

According to figures released then, 4,973 residents regularised their status by announcing their Saudi nationality, 778 their Iraqi nationality, 726 their Syrian nationality, 79 their Iranian nationality, 47 their Jordanian nationality and 436 other nationalities.