Although many motivations exist that drives migration such as fleeing persecution and violence, a lack of protections of human rights or because of a crisis whether natural or caused by human activity; seeking better economic opportunities is undoubtedly one of the most prevalent. Migration both within borders and internationally is a phenomenon common to most developing countries where decent work and living conditions can be challenging to access. This is no different for Myanmar where in 2014 migrants accounted for around 25% of the total population. This figure includes both internal and international migrants.

However, regardless of the motivation, migration almost always carries a certain level of risk both during transit and at the destination. The promise of a better future for oneself or their family often prevails over any fear brought on by the dangers of taking on such a journey. Migration is an inevitable human activity so long as the drive for a better life exists within individual persons. Ensuring that migration occurs in a safe and dignified manner remains a challenge that needs to be addressed.

The movement of people within Myanmar and across her borders continues to have a fundamental impact on her economic development. Internal migration from rural to urban industrial centers has contributed greatly to the growth of the economy over the past decade. Seasonal migration to agricultural “bread baskets” of Myanmar are essential to feeding a growing and increasingly productive population as well as bolstering exports to the rest of the world. Lastly, sending remittances maintains its role as a means of bringing indispensable funds to families where work and other economic opportunities are scarce. Understanding the important contribution of migrants to the overall economy of Myanmar is thus crucial to creating sound policy recommendations that would ensure that both the nation and individual migrants can reap the rewards of their efforts.

Migration does not occur in a vacuum, however. International migration that is safe, dignified and fruitful requires that both the origin country and the destination country can agree upon a framework that will ensure safety for migrants during transit, the availability of proper legal protections at their destination and that there exists a well laid out pathway for their return home.

It is with the three above factors in mind that CESD has partnered with the International Organization for Migration to conduct research on migration in Myanmar with the aim of gaining deeper insights that would eventually lead to sound policy recommendations. This partnership will feature three main components:

  • Research into migrant housing conditions in per-urban industrial zones
  • Studying the MOU process on migration between Myanmar and Thailand
  • Researching the impact of remittances in Mon and Karen States