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World of walls: How 65 countries have erected fences on their borders – four times as many as when the Berlin Wall was toppled – as governments try to hold back the tide of migrants

  • Security fears and a widespread refusal to help refugees have fuelled a new spate of wall-building around the world
  • A third of the world’s countries have completed or are building barriers – compared to 16 at the fall of the Berlin Wall
  • They include Israel’s ‘apartheid wall’, India’s 2,500-mile fence around Bangladesh and Morocco’s huge sand ‘berm’
  • Experts are dismissive, saying: ‘Their main function is theatre. They provide the sense of security, not real security’

Globalisation was supposed to tear down barriers, but security fears and a widespread refusal to help migrants and refugees have fuelled a new spate of wall-building across the world, with a third of the world’s countries constructing them along their borders.

When the Berlin Wall was torn down a quarter-century ago, there were 16 border fences around the world.

Today, there are 65 either completed or under construction, according to Quebec University expert Elisabeth Vallet.


From Israel’s separation barrier (or ‘apartheid wall’ as it is known by the Palestinians), to the 2,500-mile barbed-wire fence India is building around Bangladesh, to the enormous sand ‘berm’ that separates Morocco from rebel-held parts of the Western Sahara – walls and fences are ever-more popular with politicians wanting to look tough on migration and security.

US presidential hopeful Donald Trump has made plans for a wall along the border with Mexico – to keep out what he called ‘criminals, drug dealers, rapists’ – central to his inflammatory campaign.

Yet experts say there is little proof of their effectiveness in stopping people crossing borders.

In July, Hungary’s right-wing government began building a four-metre-high (13 feet) fence along its border with Serbia to stanch the flow of refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘We have only recently taken down walls in Europe; we should not be putting them up,’ was one EU spokesperson’s exasperated response.

Three other countries – Kenya, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – are all constructing border fences in a bid to keep out jihadist groups next door in Somalia, Iraq and Syria.

Seven miles of barrier have already been erected along the border at Reyhanli town in Hatay province – a main point for smuggling and border-crossing from Syria – the private Dogan news agency said.

The fence in Turkey will eventually stretch for 28 miles along a key stretch of its border with Syria.

But the Turkish wall pales into insignificance when compared to the multi-layered fence which will one day stretch 600 miles from Jordan to Kuwait along Saudi’s border with Iraq – a line of defence against ISIS.



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