The fate of 67,000 stateless people in Kuwait is uncertain after the government claimed it had identified their nationalities and would seek to repatriate them to their supposed home countries.
About 93,000 registered Bidoons living in the Gulf state have sought citizenship to give them access to civil and social rights since an agency was established in 2010 to deal with the population.
But the country argues many of the people who claim to be stateless are Arabs or descendents of Arabs who deliberately destroyed their original passports after coming to Kuwait to seek citizenship in the oil-rich country.
President of the Central Apparatus for Illegal Residents, Saleh Al-Fadhala, said the IDs of majority of them had been revealed.
“We have retrieved the civil ID number, passport number and nationality of 67,000 individuals in coordination with state departments,” he told state-run Kuwait TV.
Al-Fadhala showed documents he said proved the Bidoons were fake, including what he said was a criminal record containing the passport number and date of entry into Kuwait of one stateless resident, as well as marriage and birth certificates specifying the nationality of another.
He said the agency would “confront” the stateless claimants with the information.
“Applying for citizenship in this case is considered an act of forgery,” he warned.
He said state officials were working with countries such as Iraq and Syria to determine the identity of the applicants.
Since being established in 2010, the Centre Apparatus for Illegal Residents has awarded limited rights including the issuance of birth and marriage certificates but is yet to finalise who is eligible for naturalisation.
The Kuwaiti government recently agreed to double the number of citizenships it approves each year to 4000, giving preference to some stateless people, as well as those married to Kuwaitis or who had lived in the country since independence 50 years ago.