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KUWAIT - May 16 - Parliament Approves Bedouin Law.

Parliament approves a law to grant up to 2,000 stateless Arabs citizenship by the end of the 2000, opening the door to generous benefits in the oil-rich welfare state. Officials and members of parliament say an additional 4,000 dependants could benefit from the measure, but some argue that it is not sufficient to deal with a problem involving some 113,000 stateless persons who live in Kuwait and demand citizenship. After the session, in which 40 out of 50 members present approved the law, lawmaker Waleed Al Jirri says: "We are going to create a new Bedouin problem". (Bedouin is the word used in Kuwait to describe stateless people who live in Kuwait and claim to be Kuwaitis in what is one of the state's most complicated internal issues. Bedouin are about 2% of the population and represent 15% of the number of Kuwaitis. Some 65% of Kuwait's 2.2m population are foreigners living with residency permits.

Many of the Bedouins serve in the military but most do not enjoy free services like medical care.) On May 16, parliament approves a measure allowing the state to consider nationality applications by some Bedouins who meet specific criteria, including soldiers who served with Kuwaiti troops in the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars. MPs say resolving the problem could take years and new legislation, in 20001, to set the number of those eligible. Interior Minister Shaikh Mohammed Khalid Al Sabah says the number which met May 16's criteria, including registering in a census in 1965 and not only in 1945, were 36,716 people. During the debate, MP Mohammed Al Khalifa says the Bedouin issue was a "black spot in Kuwait's otherwise clean record".
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7KUWA
Date:May 20, 2000
Words:283
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