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Kuwait’s stateless bedoun in limbo

Frontline worker Ahmad al-Enezi has endured most of the global health crisis without a salary.That after his bank account was suspended.He is a member of Kuwait’s large stateless community and his bank has demanded valid identification.Kuwaiti authorities have also refused to renew his residency card unless he accepts to be identified as an Iraqi citizen.”At least expatriates’ lives in Kuwait are better than ours, they have ownership rights, marriage rights, all the expatriate rights, I have no problem with that, but I don’t have any nationality – even though I am Kuwaiti from father to grandfather.”Enezi’s family is one of tens of thousands of Arabs known as bedoun – a name that originated from the Arabic term for ‘without nationality’.They have tried to gain Kuwaiti citizenship for decades.Kuwait says most of its stateless people are migrants from other countries who hid their nationalities and classifies them as illegal residents.The country has ramped-up pressure on the community over the last two years to reveal ‘their country of origin’ or accept a so-called ‘assigned citizenship’.No official data is publicly available on the exact number of bedoun whose bank accounts have been frozen over identification issues.Local media have said they include government employees, military staff and private sector workers.Tarik Albaijan is an official from Kuwait’s Central Agency which handles bedoun affairs.”The numbers of those who have lodged complaints, which have problems with the bank, are in the hundreds only, not more.”Official government data says that at least 85,000 bedoun people live in Kuwait.Activists say the number could be as high as 200,000.

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