Addressing COVID-ified maritime migration in the Bay of Bengal: the case of stateless Rohingya boat people
Historically, people have for a long time been using the seas to migrate perilously in unseaworthy boats and risking their lives primarily for safe havens when fleeing persecution or for gaining better economic opportunities in countries of destination. This kind of unsafe migration by sea continues even in the challenging times of countries trying to manage the global pandemic Covid-19. Governing maritime movements is as it is a complex challenge and Covid-19, by raising public health concerns and triggering border-closures across the world, has added to its complexity. Taking the case of Rohingyas, the world’s largest stateless minority who have been trying to seek refuge in Southeast Asian countries by taking perilous journeys through the Bay of Bengal, this article analyses the COVID-ification of migration by sea that has pitted the human rights of non-refoulement and rescue at sea against the sovereign responsibility of states to protect public health of citizenry. © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.