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2022/37 “Migration in Post-coup Myanmar: A Critical Determinant in Shaping the Country’s Future?” by Aung Tun

ISEAS, Myanmar, 13 April 2022 - Since Myanmar’s February 2021 military coup, internal and external migration has become a pronounced form of social mobilization. A key reason is very clear: security concerns. Many Myanmar people have been forced to go into hiding, while others have fled to avoid atrocities committed by the State Administration Council (SAC) regime. In addition, many people have chosen to migrate in order to prepare to fight back against the regime in various ways. Some have also emigrated in order to survive economically since many businesses have been closed down in Myanmar, which has suffered the compounded impacts of the coup and Covid-19. In all, hundreds of thousands of Myanmar migrants have been on the move in quite a short period. This condition could be called a “Myanmar migration moment”.

In fact, migration will continue until political and economic stability returns to the country. This will be hard, and will require a political settlement that brings peace to Myanmar.[1] The implication is that Myanmar’s migration moment could prove lasting and that it could have serious impacts on Myanmar’s political, social and economic landscape now, in the near future, and in the long term. This migration could utterly reshape Myanmar.


Migration is not in any way new to Myanmar. A well-known Myanmar proverb on migration refers to the benefits of moving where there is clear water and (fresh) green grass. The proverb refers to the condition in which people need to migrate to new areas simply in order to make a better life. Myanmar society has a culture of mobility. A 2019 survey taken across Ayeyarwaddy and Mandalay Regions and Rakhine and Shan States found that approximately a quarter of all households surveyed had at least one migrant member.[2] However, these findings relate to conventional migrants, who migrate internally or externally to ensure a better life. The major drivers behind conventional migration are economic. Natural disaster is also a key driver for migration. Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar in May 2008, created, for instance, many migrants from the Delta region to Yangon and other areas.



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