Kuwait's ‘Bedoons’ Face Uncertainty after Registration Deadline

Published June 27th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

In Kuwait, 100,000 people who are officially stateless must register on Tuesday with the authorities to have any chance of gaining citizenship, and those unlucky to be granted citizenship rights will be in great difficulty, reported BBC.online. 

The word Bidoon means "without" in Arabic, and refers to people who have no documents to prove their nationality, and consequently have no rights of citizenship.  

Many of the Bidoon come from Iraqi or Iranian descent, but have been settled in Kuwait for generations. They face prosecution of deportation if they do not register by the end of Tuesday, said the report.  

The BBC said that about one-third of the Bidoon are likely to be granted citizenship, but the rest are put in great difficulty by the deadline for registration.  

Unlike the 1.5 million expatriate guest workers, the Bidoon are culturally indistinguishable from ordinary Kuwaitis. However, they have been given none of the benefits enjoyed by their Kuwaiti fellow people, such as government employment and free education.  

The Director of the UN Commission for Refugees office in Kuwait, Martin Loftus, told the BBC he was concerned at the threat. He said issuing deadlines like this would not solve the problem.  

A spokeswoman for the United States-based campaigning group, Human Rights Watch, was quoted as saying that confusion surrounds the deadline and the fate of those who are not granted citizenship.  

"Are they going to be allowed to stay in Kuwait? Are they going to be deported? Where are they going to be deported to?" Clarissa Bencomo wondered.  

"The government really is not answering any of these questions and this is creating a climate of terror for those who are living with this uncertainty."  

The problem of statelessness is generally increasing in part because people worldwide are much more mobile due to the movement of migrant workers and refugees.  

According to the report, Human rights groups are campaigning for a tightening of international human rights laws to offer some rights to those who find themselves stateless.  

"We would like to see states acknowledge their individual responsibilities for statelessness. What you see now is a sort of free-for-all where states say it is not my problem, it is someone else's problem," Bencomo said – Albawaba.com 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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