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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 September, 2004, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Gurkhas' UK citizen bid reviewed
A Ghurka who took part in the protest in Liverpool
Many Ghurkas think UK citizenship is the least they deserve
Demands by up to 400 retired Gurkhas for British citizenship will form part of a review of the soldier's position, the government said.

The soldiers, from Nepal and based mainly in Kent, protested in Liverpool before meeting Home Office officials.

Despite having fought as part of the British Army for almost 200 years, they are barred from British citizenship.

The Home Office later said the soldier's concerns will "feed into" the policy review of their naturalisation.

However, many of the soldiers feel the Home Office is taking too long to consider the issue.

Some said they have been waiting for two years for citizenship applications to be processed, which they claim is preventing them getting jobs.

Public support

After the meeting Tikendradal Dewan, chair of the Brigade of Gurkhas Welfare Society, said the soldiers did not get an answer.

"It is very frustrating for all of us," he said. "We can't go home to visit our families in case they do not let us back in and we can't get the jobs we want."

The soldiers, who gathered at the Home Office's Immigration and Nationality Directorate in Water Street, were being supported by other ex-servicemen and members of the public.

Former Gurkhas register their demand for UK citizenship in Liverpool
Soldiers say getting a job is difficult without citizenship
During the demonstration many of the Gurkhas, most of whom had travelled from Folkestone, were dressed in their regimental tie and wore the medals they have won during their service, which can last up to 30 years.

The Home Office later said: "Officials from the MOD and the Home Office are reviewing the current policy on the naturalisation and settlement of Gurkhas," a spokesperson said.

"The information gathered [in Liverpool] will feed into the review currently being undertaken.

"We cannot comment further on the possible outcome of that review but we are working hard to resolve this situation."

The Gurkha regiment now has around 3,500 men.




SEE ALSO:
Timeline: Nepal
18 Aug 04  |  Country profiles
Gurkha medal in London auction
22 Jul 04  |  South Asia
Gurkhas solve bus driver crisis
15 Jun 04  |  South West Wales
Who are the Gurkhas?
21 Feb 03  |  UK


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