JEAIL > Volume 14(1); 2021 > Regional Focus
Research Paper
Published online: May 30, 2021

Securing Malaysia’s Borders from Covid-19: Legal Considerations to the Influx of Rohingya Migrants

Hazmi Rusli & Roman Dremliuga & Wan Suhaili & Nur Alia Farisha
Faculty of Syariah and Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia 71800, Bandar Baru Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.
Corresponding Author:

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

On March 18, 2020, Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin declared the nationwide enforcement of the Movement Control Order to curb the spread of COVID-19. In September 2020, Malaysia entered the third wave of the outbreak. Active cases rose from 60 to more than 13,000. The government’s Ops Benteng stops illegal migrants, who are at high risk of bringing COVID-19 into Malaysia. This includes illegal Rohingya migrants, who enter Malaysia to flee persecution in their home country, Myanmar. There are approximately 150,000 Rohingya migrants in Malaysia and more are expected. This article examines the main reason behind the influx of Rohingya illegal migrants and discusses whether the Malaysian government should tighten its borders to safeguard against COVID-19. The government must prioritise its own citizens over the Rohingyas; the responsibility of managing this humanitarian disaster should be shared with other nations, particularly those party to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951.

Keywords : Sovereignty, COVID-19, Illegal Immigrants, Territorial Integrity, Humanitarian Disaster

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