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Week of 8.15.08

Walls of the World

The fence along the Mexican-U.S. border is just one of many barriers proposed or constructed around the world to keep people and cultures separated. Learn more about them below.


Baghdad, Iraq
Baghdad wall Construction Timeline: Started April 10, 2007
Materials: Moveable 7.1-ton concrete sections, 12 feet high
Purpose: To end sectarian violence
Length: 3 miles (planned)
Reaction: Some Iraqi citizens feel they were not included in the proposal and that the U.S. is isolating the Sunni section of the city.
Outcome: U.S. military says they will continue building the security walls, but that they will be taken down after the area is deemed secure.
Sources: The Christian Science Monitor, CNN


Iraq-Kuwait
Iraq-Kuwait barrier Construction Timeline: Finished in 1991
Materials: Concertina wire, electrificed fencing, ten feet high dirt berm, trenches, guards and helicopters
Purpose: To prevent re-invasion by Iraq
Length: 120 miles
Reaction: Saddam Hussein viewed the barriers as an illegal separation of Iraqi land. There is no comment from the current government.
Outcome: Completed
Sources: North County Times


Iraq-Saudi Arabia
Construction Timeline: Proposed in April 2006
Materials: Concertina wire fence, 23 feet high sand berm, five miles of no-mans-land
Purpose: To stop the flow of militants going to Iraq and prevent refugees and smugglers from getting into Saudi Arabia.
Length: 559 miles
Reaction: The U.S. administration supports the wall to help stop Saudi militants from going to Iraq.
Outcome: Expected to cost $590 million and take 6 years to build.
Sources: BBC, The Telegraph


Afghanistan-Pakistan
Construction Timeline: Proposed in September 2005.
Purpose: To curb the movement of pro-Taliban militants and members of Al Qaeda into Afghanistan along the 1,500-mile border.
Reaction: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that Pakistan was trying to "enslave the Afghans" with the fence. Opposition groups within Pakistan have said the fence would be "detrimental to the social and economic interests of the ethnic Pashtun tribes."
Outcome: Preliminary work has begun on a 20-mile section.
Source: BBC, USA Today


India-Pakistan
The barrier runs through the Line of Control which separates Indian-administered Kashmir from Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
The barrier runs through the Line of Control which separates Indian-administered Kashmir from Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Construction Timeline: Began in 1990s, finished in 2004
Materials: Concertina wire (12 feet high), double fencing, mines and motion/thermal tracking (where power is available).
Purpose: To stop smuggling and to deter Pakistani separatist militias
Length: 330 miles
Reaction: Pakistan objects to the wall, contending the area's borders are in dispute, making border fencing illegal.
Outcome: Completed
Sources: Daily Times, The New York Times


Iran-Pakistan
Construction Timeline: Started May, 2007
Materials: Large earth and stone embankments, ditches, guard fortresses (3 feet thick, 10 feet high)
Purpose: To stop smuggling of drugs to Iran and fuel to Pakistan and to stop terror attacks
Length: 435 miles (planned)
Reaction: The wall will divide and displace Baloch people which live on the border.
Outcome: Iran has moved to vacate groups on the border; Pakistan has said they support Iran's right to build a wall on their territory.
Sources: The News, BBC


Israeli West Bank
Israeli separation barrier at Abu Dis, June 2004. This picture shows a portion of the barrier being built by Israel in the West Bank. This part is in Abu Dis, close to the eastern part of Jerusalem. The photo was taken on the Jerusalem side of the wall, facing south. The local residents on both sides of the barrier at this point are predominantly Arabs. Construction Timeline: Began in 2002, about halfway completed.
Materials: Concrete walls, multilayer fences, intrusion detection, exclusion area on both sides.
Purpose: To stop Palestinian terrorists from entering Israel.
Length: 436 miles
Reaction: One of the most controversial separation walls worldwide. The Israelis see the wall as necessary to Israel's security against terrorism. The Palestinian view is that the wall cuts Palestinians off from their farmland and places of work, and confines them to specific areas. The international community, including the Red Cross, the U.N. and Amnesty International, all condemn the wall in its current form as illegal under international law.
Outcome: The wall continues to be built in spite of opposition and is expected to be completed in 2010.
Sources: BBC , B'Tselem, Human Rights Watch, Israel's Security Fence (Government Site)


Spain-Morocco (Melilla)
Spain-Morocco wall
Source: Chiara Tamburini, Brussels
Construction Timeline: Finished in 1998
Materials: 3 parallel 10 feet fences with barbed wire. Ninety miles of underground cable connect spotlights, noise and movement sensors, and video cameras to a central control booth.
Purpose: To stop the flow of illegal immigrants from Morocco.
Length: 6 miles of fencing
Reaction: Morocco opposes the border fence and doesn't recognize Spain's sovereignty over the town of Melilla.
Outcome: The wall was completed and partially funded by the European Union. In 2001 a similar project was completed in the town of Ceuta, despite objections by Morocco.
Sources: BBC, Wired


Via Anelli Wall, Italy
wall of Padua Construction Timeline: August 2006
Materials: A steel wall standing at close to 10 feet, with CCTV cameras and a policed entrance.
Purpose: To quell gang violence, drug dealing and prostitution in the Via Anelli quarter of Padua, Italy.
Length: 275 feet
Reaction: Groups have called the wall racist and say it creates a ghetto for poor illegal immigrants, mostly from Africa.
Outcome: Completed
Sources: BBC, Canadian Broadcasting , The Times Online