Thousands of stateless people in the Arab Gulf state of Kuwait will be offered citizenship of the African state of Comoros to end their decades-old problem, reported Kuwait’s Al-Jarida daily on Sunday.
The paper quoted Assistant Under-Secretary of Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior Major-General Mazen Al-Jarrah as saying that Bedoons (stateless residents) would be granted “special applications for Comoros’ economic citizenship”.
Those who accept the offer would be given free residence permits in Kuwait, in addition to a series of incentives like free education and healthcare and the right to employment, said Al-Jarrah.
He added that the process would start as soon as an embassy for Comoros is opened in Kuwait in the coming months.
Many of Kuwait’s stateless are descendants of desert nomads denied citizenship under strict nationality laws in the small Gulf state, whose citizens are entitled to generous welfare benefits.
More than 110,000 stateless people were born and raised in Kuwait and claim the right to the Kuwaiti nationality. However, the Kuwaiti government describes them as illegal residents and says that only 34,000 qualify for citizenship consideration.
The rest are considered natives of other countries who either immigrated to Kuwait after the discovery of oil five decades ago or were born to these migrants.
In the past three years, Bedoons have held demonstrations to demand citizenship and other basic rights, and police have dispersed them using force, arresting hundreds who are on trial for illegal protests and assaulting police.
A Kuwaiti lawmaker in April proposed to send stateless people convicted of breaching public security and protesting to a camp he suggested should be built in the desert.
Comoros is an impoverished archipelago nation located off eastern Africa and is a member of the Arab League.