By Faten Omar
KUWAIT: A report conducted by Arabian Gulf Center for Studies and Research (CSRGULF) – the first think tank in Kuwait – revealed 5,400 people residing in Kuwait have applied for asylum since 2018 to foreign countries, most notably the United Kingdom, Canada, United States and European countries such as France, Germany and Scandinavian countries, while Iraq and the United Arab Emirates were the top Arab destinations.
The report mentioned the percentage of Kuwaiti citizens out of the total asylum seekers has not been determined, but it is unlikely to be a large number, as most of those seeking asylum are non-Kuwaitis, specifically stateless residents known as bedoons. Some of them are motivated by the idea of emigration out of desperation to wait for solutions and out of the desire to obtain documents and permanent residence in other countries that grant basic rights.
It is estimated that about half of those seeking asylum from Kuwait prefer European destinations, as the UK alone accounted for more than a third of the applications. However, more than half of these requests are usually rejected, especially by European authorities, unlike Canada and UK, which are more favorable towards humanitarian cases related to people who are exposed to risks and restrictions in expressing freedoms and opinions, or those who do not enjoy full residence rights or are subject to abuse or threats.
In general, the number of asylum seekers from Kuwait decreased to around 565 people in 2022 compared to 2018, when it reached about 1,359. Despite the significant decrease in demand for asylum in 2022, Kuwait remains the top in the Gulf in exporting “refugees”. Within a classification prepared by CSRGULF on
trends in seeking asylum from Arab countries to Europe in 2022, based on European statistics, residents of Kuwait ranked 16th in the ranking of the most Arabs seeking asylum, as about 254 people applied for asylum to the European continent in 2022, and 257 in 2020.
The number of asylum seekers decreased significantly compared to 2019, when around 790 applicants sought asylum from Kuwait to Europe. In recent years, asylum applications have been received from people from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Lebanon residing in Kuwait with various justifications. However, Syrians and Yemenis are considered among the most fortunate non-Kuwaiti nationalities residing in the country in obtaining asylum, although Kuwait had exempted some Syrian and Yemeni residents from deportation due to the war in their countries of origin.
These exemptions stopped in 2018. In 2021, about 1,029 people from Kuwait applied for asylum, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which is approximately 0.024% of the entire population of the country. The most common asylum destinations were the United Kingdom, France and Austria. Overall, 61 percent of asylum applications were rejected, but the most fortunate refugees chose destinations such as Canada and Luxembourg.