Timeline: July 2019 – August 2020
Context and Objective: Decades of persecution against the Rohingya community in Myanmar has culminated in several large waves of forced displacement, and a total of nearly one million Rohingya now live as refugees in the camps of Cox’s Bazar across the Bangladesh border. In addition to the massive refugee crisis, widespread irregular migration has also led to significant shifts within the population. As a result, a vast number of Rohingya families now live splintered across borders. Most separated family members possess no travel documents and have little prospect of reuniting.
The study aims to provide insight into the processes of decision-making and risk-taking by the Rohingya in relation to transnational mobility. It explores implications for personnel security and wellbeing of the refugees themselves and of their families, but also regional conflict and security dynamics. Finally, it aims to identify the positive and negative effects of interventions by state and development actors on the refugees’ access to relatives abroad and remittances, and on cross-border movement, with a view to informing more effective programming and policymaking. CPJ has been implementing this study as part of X-Border Local Research Network which consists of The Asia Foundation, the Carnegie Middle East Center, and the Rift Valley Institute.
Methodology: The study has adopted a mixed method approach of research where a statistically representative family level survey was conducted along with key informant interviews (KIIS) with relevant stakeholders. Both summary and analytical statistics has been utilised to present the study findings. Finally, triangulation of both quantitative and qualitative data has been made in writing the study report.
Progress till date: During October to December 2019 CPJ implemented the survey and qualitative data was collected in the subsequent months. The survey covered 1,611 households spread over 26 camps in Cox’s Bazar as well as over 50 key informant interviews were conducted to collect relevant data and information. A group of 22 volunteer enumerators from the Rohingya community (both male and female) were trained for a week before commencing the survey.
Survey respondents were asked about their family history of migration, as well as the current whereabouts of family members remaining in Myanmar, living abroad, or incarcerated. It also determines the extent of financial and material assets that they lost, families’ current economic situation, livelihood access of camp households, and the gendered implications of mobility and migration trends. The in-depth interviews supplemented the household information collected in the survey and provided with a rich collection of multigenerational oral histories that shed lights on each individual family’s unique circumstances, the decision-making process within families separated across borders and emotional and physical perils one goes through due to separation.
Preliminary results of the survey show that half of the Rohingya households have family members remaining in Myanmar or living abroad with Malaysia and Saudi Arabia as the most prominent destination. A 21% of the total respondents receive remittances from family abroad which they rely on livelihoods for. One fifth of the survey respondents have an incarcerated family member; out of which 72% are in Myanmar. Due to the over mounting hardships facing refugees in the harsh adversities of the camp, 91% of the families find it difficult to meet their monthly expenses. To meet the additional needs not supplemented through aid, 83% of families have taken a loan since arriving to camp as a result of which 74% are currently in debt.
Publication: The key findings of the study has been published as a policy paper ‘Beyond Relief: Securing Livelihoods and Agency for Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh’.
Contact: Jessica Olney, Visiting Researcher; firstname.lastname@example.org
Badiuzzaman, Research Coordinator; email@example.com