Andika Ab.Wahab, Aizat Khairi


Continuous human rights persecutions have forced nearly one million Rohingyas to flee from Myanmar and seek refuge in Bangladesh. While their forced migration to the first asylum country of Bangladesh is inevitable, some have been compelled to move onward to other transit countries. Existing studies indicate various factors influencing cross-border activities among different segments of immigrants. They also suggest that the degree of transnationalism affects different kind of people on the move, subsequently brings about unique consequences to receiving community. In this study, we aim to determine factors contributing to the onward movement of Rohingyas from their refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh to Malaysia. We utilize the broader concept of transnationalism in order to gauge the Rohingyas’ perception and the realities they face in relation to their onward movement from Bangladesh to Malaysia. This study employed three methods of data collection namely a survey, an in-depth interview and a focus group discussion in engaging the Rohingyas in Klang Valley, Malaysia. Resulting from a two-part of data collection conducted in 2013 and 2016, we found that the onward movement of Rohingyas was mostly driven by poverty, unconducive livelihood experiences, limited access to humanitarian aid, and inadequate refugee protection in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, positive Rohingyas’ perception toward Malaysia, coupled with the availability of job opportunities have attracted them to choose Malaysia as the next asylum country. While this study enriches the existing literatures on transnationalism and onward movement of refugees, it also provides empirical evidences for humanitarian assistances in Bangladesh and Malaysia.


Keywords: Forced migration, onward movement, refugees, Rohingya, transnationalism.


Cite as: Ab. Wahab, A. & Khairi, A. (2019). Moving onward: Transnationalism and factors influencing Rohingyas’ migration from Bangladesh to Malaysia. Journal of Nusantara Studies, 4(1), 49-68.

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