Killing of Bidoon child in Kuwait stirs widespread anger

Outrage in Kuwait over death of stateless Bidoon child hit by speeding car
2 min read
06 June, 2021
The boy who was hit by a speeding car belongs to the stateless Bidoon community in Kuwait.
The Bidoons are a stateless minority in Kuwait [Getty]

A stateless Bidoon child who sells flowers on the streets was killed on Friday after being allegedly hit by a speeding car in Kuwait, sparking widespread anger across the country and bringing to the forefront the problem of increased poverty within the Bidoon community.

Jarrah Ayed Bin Jasham Al-Shammari, 15, was allegedly struck by a speeding car, which was chasing another vehicle in Kuwait City's Al-Rawda neighbourhood.

A doctor who happened to be passing by tried saving the boy's life, local media reported, but the child succumbed to his wounds. He was buried in the Jahra cemetery in northern Kuwait.

It remains unclear whether the driver has been arrested. 

The accident sparked widespread condemnation across the Gulf state, with many complaining that poverty and negligence towards the Bidoon community has forced children to risk their lives and work as street vendors.

The Bidoons are stateless Arab minority in Kuwait who were not included as citizens at the time of the country's independence or shortly thereafter.

Jarrah's cousin told The New Arab’s Arabic-language site that the boy became the family-of-five's sole breadwinner, after his father lost his job amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

He did not have any proof of his identity or a birth certificate, since he belonged to the stateless community, his cousin said, adding that as a result of lacking official documents, he was unable to attend school.

The Amiri Hospital found it difficult to deliver the body of the child to his family since he had no ID, leading the health ministry to intervene and grant the family an exception that would enable them to bury their son.

Kuwaiti activists mourned the child, describing him as a martyr. Social media users launched the hashtag "The martyrdom of (the) Bidoon child", expressing their anger over the Bidoon's status in Kuwait.

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