Middle East

Kuwait to replace expats with workers from discriminated Bidoon community

Kuwait is planning to replace expats working in the private sector with members of the country’s disadvantaged Bidoon community. It comes amid the government’s ambitions to address a long-standing demographic imbalance between expat workers and Kuwaiti nationals in the workforce.

According to Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas, citing a government official, the labour authorities will set up a platform to register Bidoon (or stateless) job seekers.

Earlier this week, the head of the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) Ahmed Al Moussa said the Tayseer platform would be launched today in coordination with the Central Agency for Dealing with Illegal Residents, the report said.

“This platform aims to put this category of people in place of the expatriate labour to preserve the demographic make-up, safeguard their rights under the umbrella of law and give them the chance [for work] in a way commensurate with their qualifications and leanings,” he said in a press statement.

READ: Kuwait school expels stateless Bidoon student

There are an estimated 100,000 stateless people in Kuwait, deemed to be “illegal residents” by the government and there are estimates of 500,000 Bidoon across the Gulf. Human rights groups have long campaigned against the mistreatment and marginalisation of the community, however, Kuwait insists that a majority of the Bidoon originate from neighbouring countries and are not eligible for citizenship.

However, Kuwait’s Bidoon who are mostly Shia Muslims contest this and say they are indigenous to the Gulf state. Many lived in remote, tribal areas of the undefined borders of the nascent Kuwaiti state when it gained independence from Britain in 1961 and were deemed ineligible for citizenship.

In March, Bidoon activists staged a 19-day hunger strike, camped outside a police station in Sulaibiya demanding the state grant them their full rights to citizenship, including access to healthcare, education and other essential services.

According to the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), the hunger strike was ended after it managed to highlight the plight of the Bidoon community. A spokesperson for the activists Mohammed Al-Barghash was quoted as saying “The strike was suspended after it achieved its goals and succeeded in shedding light on the tragedy of the Bedoon community in Kuwait and depriving them of their civil and human rights for decades, including the right of full citizenship in their homeland, Kuwait.”

“The suspension of the strike does not prevent us from returning to it if we find that the political forces are not serious about their promise to us, and the Kuwaiti government continues to ignore our demands,” he stressed.

READ: Kuwait tries 7 expats accused of laundering almost $200m 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Back to top button