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3-05-2012 - Kuwait Times

Kuwait asks Baghdad to issue passports for 42,000 bedoons

Kuwait has asked Iraq to issue passports to 42,000 Iraqis residing in Kuwait as stateless residents, head of the state's Central Agency for Remedying Illegal Residents Issues announced recently.

Speaking during a seminar held at a diwaniya in Yarmouk, Saleh Al-Fadhalah explained that during Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's visit to Kuwait, he was informed about "42,000 Iraqis living in Kuwait, claiming to be stateless."

Officials asked that they be "issued Iraqi passports to so that work permits can be issued. This is because Kuwait does not plan to deport them to Iraq."

"When Al-Maliki asked if we have evidence to prove that they are Iraqis, we said that we have official documents to confirm their real nationalities," Al-Fadhalah said, adding that the Iraqi premier promised to coordinate on the subject.

Moreover, he said that similar talks were held with Syria as well, but communications were suspended since the protests and security situation deteriorated there. "Several calls were made with neighboring countries in an attempt to elicit information indicating bedoons' real status," he added. He went on to say that "registering 93,000 bedoons [in the agency's records] is a heavy burden ion the state."

Kuwait has a large community of stateless residents who demand citizenship as well as civil and social rights they are deprived of owing to their illegal residence status.

The government argues that a part of them are Arabs who deliberately disposed of their original passports after coming to Kuwait to seek citizenship in the oil-rich country.

On Tuesday, police used force to disperse a demonstration of nearly 200 bedoon protestors in the Taima district of Al-Jahra. Fourteen demonstrators believed to have instigated the protests were arrested.

An Al-Rai daily report identifies one of the detainees as Abdulhakeem Al-Fadhli. Activist Mohammad Al-Hajri was also named as "one of the instigators who ran away as soon as the confrontation began."

A senior Ministry of Interior official quoted anonymously in the report confirmed that talks are underway with "leaders of bedoons [protests]," indicating that he received "outside calls that prompted him to carry out actions undermine national security."

The latest demonstration was made in protest against a decision taken by the Central Agency to issue identification cards for bedoons in colors that indicate their legal status.

The government established the Agency a couple of years ago, with the goal of resolving the issue and naturalize those that are eligible, including residents whose Bedouin ancestors failed to register for citizenship after Kuwait gained independence more than fifty years ago.

Last year, the Agency adopted measures to grant bedoons rights to obtain marriage, birth and death certificates. The agency was given a five-year deadline to resolve the decades-old issue.


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