Malaysia + 2 more

MMC Asia 4Mi Snapshot – July 2020: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on Rohingya and Bangladeshis in Malaysia – Update #2

Originally published
View original


Since May 2020, MMC Asia has been interviewing Rohingya and Bangladeshis in Malaysia to better understand their migration experiences and protection needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. This snapshot builds on themes covered in the first snapshot, produced in June 2020.1 This includes the impact of COVID-19 on daily life, as well as the consequences of COVID-19-related income loss. In addition, this snapshot focuses on respondents’ access to healthcare, risk perception and awareness of COVID-19, as well as the impact of the pandemic on migration journeys. It aims to contribute towards building a solid evidence base to inform targeted responses on the ground, as well as advocacy efforts related to the challenges facing Bangladeshis and Rohingya in Malaysia.


• Stop the arrest, detention, and deportation of refugees and migrants in Malaysia;

• Provide equal access for both male and female refugees and migrants to free healthcare services, including testing and treatment;

• Facilitate access to income-generating activities for Bangladeshis and Rohingya, while addressing the impacts of income loss on their living conditions and psychological well-being;

• Provide rental relief and freeze evictions of refugees and migrants during the pandemic


Information in this snapshot was collected between 1 May and 26 June 2020 in Johor,
Kedah, Kelantan, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, and Selangor, in Malaysia. 119 phone interviews were conducted - 79 with Rohingya and 40 with Bangladeshi respondents.

More than half of Rohingya respondents were women, while Bangladeshi respondents were primarily men (90%).2 All respondents had arrived in Malaysia within the past 24 months. The average age of Rohingya respondents was 24, compared with 30 for Bangladeshis. Findings in this snapshot are representative only of those interviewed and cannot be generalized to the wider Rohingya and Bangladeshi populations in Malaysia.

Awareness of COVID-19 and protective measures is high

All participants had heard of COVID-19, and 99% said they knew how to protect themselves from the virus (n=119). The most common protective measures practiced by both Rohingya and Bangladeshi respondents include washing hands more regularly and/ or using hand sanitizer (94%), wearing a mask (88%), and staying at home and isolating from others (78%).