Countries with Border Walls
The president of the United States of America has made the issue of building a border wall quite a trending topic the world over of late. His proposed wall between the United States and Mexico has been heavy in the news and has caused lots of friction with American congress people even leading to a shutdown of government activity for weeks in recent times. However, did you know that there are countries in the world who already have border walls?
A border barrier separating territories is not new to the world. In fact, before the geographical positioning technology, physical features or humanmade walls were used to separate different territories for protection and other reasons. The Great Wall of China was built many years ago to separate the country from empires of the north, and the Berlin Wall was erected to separate the ideologically different West and East Berlin. Today, there are several border barriers between different countries. There are many reasons as to why these boundaries exist with the most common being the need to control who goes in or out of the country.
Unknown to many, the US constructed 81 miles long border wall to separate it from Mexico. The border was erected to curb illegal migration from Mexico into the US and to stop illegal drug smuggling. There have been calls for extending the border, but these have not been implemented. In 2016, then-Presidential Candidate Donald Trump arose controversy by campaigning on a platform that included the completion of the border wall.
Many argue that the existing border wall has helped protect Americans. On the other hand, many also argue that the border contravenes the spirit of regional integration. Many say countries should open their borders and not close them. Additionally, many people who are escaping different forms of abuses from Mexico have been affected and trade opportunities between the two countries have been reduced. The wall has also made it hard for legal migration to occur from Mexico. Environmentally, the border barrier has affected wild animal migration patterns and put many animals in danger from hunting and other human activities. The wall has also separated several indigenous communities within North America. Many people have also died trying to cross the border into the US while others have paid extravagant amounts to be snuck in through cartel-controlled smuggling tunnels.
North and South Korea have a wall in between them. The border barrier includes the Panmunjom, the Military Demarcation Line, and the Demilitarized Zone. The Panmunjom is located where the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement that stopped the Korean War was signed. The Panmunjom is home to the Joint Security Area where soldiers of the two countries meet and discuss security matters though each side seat in their territories separated on either side of the Military Demarcation Line. The Military Demarcation Line (DML), also known as the Armistice Line, is a 154 mile long separation between the two countries. The DML is sandwiched between the Demilitarized Zone that was established in 1953. The Korean barrier has ensured security and cooperation between the two Koreas. More so, the barriers have protected South Korea from the unpredictable North Korea and confined communist systems to the North and Capitalism to the South.
On the other hand, the border lines have separated the two nations who have much in common both culturally, and historically. There are no trade or border activities between the two countries as the North does not want its citizens to cross to the South. In many cases, North Korea captures, detains and tortures its citizens attempting to cross to the South while some die trying to cross it.
Israel has several border walls separating its territories from some of its neighbors. Historically, Israel has experienced several international attacks from countries who feel that Israel should not exist as a country in that area. The first border was built in the 1950s in Jerusalem to separate Jordanian and Israeli territories of the city. The west bank wall was also built to separate Jerusalem from other parts of the city. There are also barriers separating Israel from Syria and Lebanon though it is not a wall, but a series of sophisticated military installations. Other Israeli border walls include Israel-Jordan walls, Israel-Gaza barrier, and a proposed Israel-Egypt border. According to Israel, these borders protect the country from the constant threat of terrorist attacks, illegal movement of people and goods smuggling.
However, these walls also act as a barrier to unique religious and historical features. Within modern-day Israel and Jerusalem are important religious sites for the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths and therefore erecting walls may hinder visitors from fully exploring the areas. Instead of bringing security, these walls have acted as symbols of animosity among nations. The barriers also act as a barrier to the much-needed inter-religious dialogue and tolerance.
Though border barriers, in some cases, are important in curbing illegal cross-border activities, sometimes erecting such barriers are counterproductive and create more suspicion and animosity. There is a total of 20 completed border barriers in the world, seven under construction, 1 planned, and five proposed. This trend is set to go up as more countries are planning to build walls along international borders.