Bidoon (short for ‘bidoon jinsiya’, meaning ‘without nationality’ in Arabic, and alternately spelt as Bedoon, Bidun and Bedun) are a stateless Arab minority in Iraq. They are descendants of individuals who never received Iraqi citizenship upon the state’s founding, living as nomads in the desert near or in the southern governorates of Basrah, Dhi Qar, and Qadissiya. After the Iraq invasion of Kuwait, many Bidoon fled from Kuwait to Iraq and were later denied re-entry. In 2006 the number of Bidoon was estimated to be 54 500, while in 1997, a government census, assessed as unreliable, estimated their number at 100 000.
It is reported that the majority of Bidoon remain undocumented and stateless and do not have access to many services and public sector job opportunities, nor can they register land in their own names, sign rental contracts or inherit property. The births and deaths of stateless Bidoons are not usually registered by the government. However, according to a report of the Institute for International Law and Human Rights (IILHR) from 2013, ‘the community does not appear to face de jure barriers to accessing citizenship, identity, or other documentation.’ In 2019, it was reported that members of the Bidoon community moved to city centres due to drought conditions in the south of Iraq and were largely able to obtain civil documentation, food ratios, and social benefits.
The Bidoon community faces high rates of poverty and a precarious living situation, limited access to education and services, such as clean water, electricity, and adequate shelter. Community members commonly earn money by selling garbage and tending other people’s livestock.
The IILHR and the Special Rapporteur on minority issues to the UN Human Rights Council have noted a disturbing lack of information on the circumstances of the Bidoon community in Iraq.
The individual assessment of whether or not the treatment of individuals under this profile could amount to persecution should take into account the severity and/or repetitiveness of the acts or whether they occur as an accumulation of various measures.
Not all individuals under this profile would face the level of risk required to establish a well-founded fear of persecution. The individual assessment of whether or not there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances such as: (lack of) identity documents, statelessness, area of origin, etc.
Nexus to a reason for persecution
Available information indicates that, if well-founded fear of persecution could be substantiated in a specific individual context, it could be for reasons of race and/or nationality (statelessness).