20th Anniversary of the Fall of Berlin Wall / Walls Still Standing or Built Since Nov9/89
As part of the recognition of the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, BBC News has taken a look at other such walls around the world that are either still standing, or have been built since Nov 9th, 1989. Some of these are detailed below.
West Bank Barrier
The barrier which separates Israel from the West Bank is a mixture of fences, barbed wire, ditches and concrete slabs up to 8m (26ft) high.
Some sections also include sensors, sand – to help identify footprints – patrol roads and “buffer zones” up to 60m wide.
The Israeli government approved the construction of the wall in 2002.
According to figures released by the UN in July 2009, the proposed boundary is now 58.3% complete, with 10% currently in the process of construction, leaving 31.5% still to be built.
The Israeli Ministry of Defence issues emergency military decrees to landowners in order to obtain the land on which the wall is to be built – 85% of it is built on occupied Palestinian land.
Only 15% of the barrier follows the so-called “Green Line”, the internationally-recognised border.
In 2004, the barrier was deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Israel’s official position is that the barrier is a “security fence”, defending its citizens from attacks by Palestinians.
The Palestinians, on the other hand, view it as an “apartheid wall” which threatens their human rights, and believe that its true aim is to expand Israeli territory.
Operation Guardian – US / Mexico Border
The border between Mexico and the United States is 3,200km (1,988 miles) long.
The US government has built a metal wall along a third of it, at an estimated cost so far of $2.5bn (£1.5bn), to prevent the arrival of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America.
The first barriers actually began to appear in 1991, but in 1994 the US officially decided to step up their surveillance and expanded the wall under Operation Guardian.
According to the Mexican National Commission of Human Rights, more than 5,600 illegal immigrants have died trying to cross the border in the subsequent years.
The majority died as a consequence of the high temperatures in the desert.
As well as the wall itself, there are also three metal fences in some places along the border, preventing any kind of contact at all. Its average height is 4-5m (13-16ft).
Construction of a “virtual wall” has also recently begun.
This comprises a series of technological devices such as infrared sensors, cameras, radar, watch towers and ground sensors.
India and Pakistan Border
The border between India and Pakistan is one of the most volatile on the planet.
Walls, barbed wire fences and barricades stretch almost half the 2,900km (1,800 mile) boundary line.
Delhi has said it intends to extend the barrier along almost the whole border.
At the end of the 1980s, India began erecting barriers in the states of Punjab and Rajastan, saying they needed to combat terrorism.
An additional cause of tension is the use of barbed wire fences combined with mines and other high-tech devices along almost all of the so-called “Line of Control”, the de facto border between Indian- and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
Western Sahara Wall
The Sahrawi and Moroccans who inhabit the Western Sahara have been disputing the rightful ownership of the land since Spain ended its occupation of the area and withdrew in 1976.
In 1980, having attained the land for themselves, the Moroccans began building a wall in the desert.
It said the wall was to defend itself from the Polisario Front – a political and military movement which seeks independence from Morocco and autonomy for the Sahrawi people.
The wall, completed in 1987 is in reality a collection of six different defence walls.
Its total span is more than 2,700km (1,677 miles), and is made up of a mixture of sand and stone, barbed wire, ditches and mine fields.
Human rights organisations refer to it as the “wall of shame” and condemn the use of anti-personnel landmines along its length.
The Moroccan government, for its part, says that it has cleared the desert of mines and deactivated 65,000 of them.
Rio de Janeiro Favela Walls
Since the beginning of the year, Rio de Janeiro has been building walls around some of its favelas, the shanty towns that crowd the hills around the city.
In total, 13 favelas will eventually be surrounded by concrete with a total length of 14km (8.6 miles) and a height varying between 80cm (32 inches) and 3m.
The aim is to prevent the precariously-constructed communities spilling over into the forest and destroying the surrounding vegetation of the Tijuca Park, one of the largest urban nature reservations in the world.
Officials say the Atlantic forests in the region have already lost an estimated 90% of their surface area.
In Santa Marta district, 600m of wall has already been erected, while in Rocinha the government has reached an agreement with the 200,000 residents to limit the wall to those areas at risk of landslides.
The rest will be made up of ecological paths and parks.
Some critics think Rio’s walls are an attempt to separate the poor areas from the richer ones situated between the favelas and the sea.
Others say they are intended to limit drug trafficking, as part of a planned regional government clamp down.
via BBC News
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