While Kuwait remains adamant that its "Bidoon" (Stateless) population does not merit Kuwaiti citizenship, the emirate has been quietly working out a deal to secure its stateless residents citizenship in Comoros.
The Kuwaiti government announced in 2014 that it was securing a deal to grant the Bidoon Comorian citizenship. However, just this week the government of Comoros confirmed it is willing to accept the deal.
"Yes, it is something we are ready to do if officially requested by the Kuwaiti government," Comorian External Affairs Minister Abdul Karim Mohammad said, according to Gulf News .
In exchange for granting the Bidoon citizenship, Comoros would receive economic assistance from the oil-rich Gulf nation. Although both countries are members of the Arab League, Kuwait's gross domestic product is $43,500 per capita as opposed to that of Comoros, which is $810.
While the prospects of having citizenship of some kind might seem positive, rights groups have expressed concern that the plan could lead to more problems and even deportation. U.N. conventions ban the deportation of stateless individuals but there's nothing stopping a country from deporting individuals with foreign passports.
More than 110,000 Bidoon are residents of Kuwait, although they are not recognized as citizens and the emirate considers them to be illegal immigrants. However, the majority of these people have been living in Kuwait for decades, even before it was officially formed as an independent state in 1961.
Many of these individuals have ancestral heritage from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other regional countries. They remain in legal limbo as the state refuses to recognize them as citizens although many have little or no ties to their ancestral countries.
Since Kuwaiti citizenship is passed only through the father, the children of Kuwaiti women who marry Bidoon are considered stateless as well. In 2012, Kuwait attempted to remedy the situation by granting residency permits to Bidoon that could show they had passports from their ancestral countries.
Earlier this month, Kuwait announced new passport restrictions for its Bidoon population following the murder of a Kuwaiti citizen by two Bidoon. Under the new rules, Bidoon would only be able to secure passports for "studies or medical treatment abroad, overseas business deals or to go to Makkah for Umrah or Haj," according to Shaikh Mazen Al Jarrah, the assistant undersecretary for citizenship and passports affairs.