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The term separation barrier is a wall or fence constructed to limit the movement of people across a certain line or border, or to separate two populations. These structures vary in placement with regard to international borders and topography. The most famous example of a separation barrier is probably the Great Wall of China, a series of barriers separating the Empire of Chinamarker from nomadic powers to the north; the most prominent recent example was the Berlin Wallmarker that separated the enclave of West Berlin from the rest of East Germanymarker during most of the Cold War era.

Current barriers

Note: The table can be sorted alphabetically or chronologically using the icon.
Name Country Built Length (km) Type
Baghdad Wall Adhamiya, Iraqmarker Under construction 5 Civil pacification
Belfast Peace Lines United Kingdommarker (Northern Irelandmarker) 1970s -early 0.500 (average) Civil pacification
Botswana/Zimbabwe Botswanamarker and Zimbabwemarker 2003 500 Anti-illegal immigration
Brunei/Limbang Bruneimarker and Limbangmarker 2005 20 Anti-illegal immigration
Ceuta border fencemarker Spainmarker 2001 8 Anti-illegal immigration
China/Hong Kong Chinamarker 1960s -early 32 Internal barrier
China/Macau Chinamarker 1870 0.340 Internal barrier
China/North Korea Chinamarker and North Koreamarker Under construction 1,416 Anti-illegal immigration
Egypt/Gaza Egyptmarker and Gazamarker 1979 3.071 Anti-terrorism and anti-illegal immigration
Malaysia-Thailand border Thailandmarker and Malaysiamarker Proposed 650 Anti-terrorism
Melilla border fencemarker Spainmarker 1998 11 Anti-illegal immigration
Indo-Bangladeshi barrier Indiamarker Under construction 3,268 Anti-illegal immigration
Indo-Burma barrier Indiamarker Under construction 1,624 Anti-drug smuggling and anti-terrorism
Indian Kashmir barrier Indiamarker 2004 550 Anti-terrorism (disputed territory)
Iran-Pakistan barrier Iranmarker and Pakistanmarker Under construction 700 Anti-drug smuggling
Israeli West Bank barrier Israelmarker - West Bankmarker Under construction 703 Anti-terrorism (disputed territory)
Kazakh-Uzbekistan barrier Kazakhstanmarker and Uzbekistanmarker 2006 45 Anti-drug smuggling
Korean Wall North Koreamarker and South Koreamarker 1953 248 Conflict zone
Kruger National Parkmarker South Africa and Mozambiquemarker 1975 120 Anti-illegal immigration
Kuwait-Iraq barrier Kuwaitmarker and Iraqmarker 1991 193 Conflict zone
Pakistan-Afghanistan barrier Pakistanmarker Proposed 2,400 Anti-terrorism
Russia/Chechnya Chechnyamarker (Russiamarker) Proposed 700 Anti-terrorism (disputed territory)
Saudi-Yemen barrier Saudi Arabiamarker and Yemenmarker 2004 75 Anti-illegal immigration
Sharm el-Sheikhmarker Egyptmarker 2005 20 Anti-terrorism
Turkmen-Uzbekistan barriermarker Turkmenistanmarker and Uzbekistanmarker 2001 1,700 Anti-illegal immigration
United Arab Emirates-Oman barrier United Arab Emiratesmarker and Omanmarker Under construction 410 Anti-illegal immigration
United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus Cyprusmarker and Northern Cyprusmarker 1974 300 Conflict zone
United States–Mexico barrier United Statesmarker Under construction 3,360 Anti-illegal immigration and drug smuggling
Uzbek-Afghanistan barrier Uzbekistanmarker and Afghanistanmarker 2001 209 Anti-illegal immigration
Uzbek-Kyrgyzstan barrier Uzbekistanmarker and Kyrgyzstanmarker 1999 870 Conflict zone
Via Anelli Wallmarker Paduamarker, Italymarker 2006 0.085 Internal barrier
Western Sahara, Berm of Moroccomarker 1987 2,700 Conflict zone (disputed territory)


In January 2006, Afghanistanmarker's government decreed that the United Nations, the American embassy and other foreign organizations in Kabulmarker must clear concrete security barriers that protect their buildings. Most Kabul streets are full of security barriers and large concrete anti-blast blocks aimed at protecting against the insurgent and terrorist attacks that have risen in the past four years since the fall of the Taliban regime. The decree follows pressure from the newly formed Afghan parliament and public complaints over the heavy traffic jams caused by the barriers. The foreign groups are expressing concern and saying that the security situation does not permit that. The United Nations is one of the organizations concerned by the Afghan government's order. UN chief spokesman in Kabul Adrian Edwards said that security barriers are still required. "We are in a difficult security environment which certainly hasn't improved during 2005", Edwards said. "There have been a number of suicide attacks. Within the UN here, I think none of us would wish to be behind these barricades, we would prefer things could be open as we are in some other countries. However, there have been necessary for our security, that's why they are there." The Afghan government has said it is determined to remove all the barricades. The directive of the government says that "blocking the footpaths, streets, and roads is illegal" and that no one has the right to create obstructions, the only exception being the presidential palace.


In 2003, Botswanamarker began building a 300-mile-long electric fence along its border with Zimbabwemarker. The official reason for the fence is to stop the spread of foot-and-mouth disease among livestock. Zimbabweans argue that the height of the fence is clearly intended to keep out people. Botswana has responded that the fence is designed to keep out cattle, and to ensure that entrants have their shoes disinfected at legal border crossings. Botswana also argued that the government continues to encourage legal movement into the country. Zimbabwe was unconvinced, and the barrier remains a source of tension between the two nations.


Bruneimarker is building a security fence along its 20-kilometer border with Limbangmarker to stop the flow of irregular migrants and smuggled goods.

People's Republic of China

The People's Republic of Chinamarker (PRC) has two Special Administrative Regions, namely Hong Kongmarker and Macaumarker on its southeastern coast. Both of them maintain controlled intra-national borders with the neighbouring Guangdong provincemarker in Mainland China. An identity document is inspected when one crosses the border.

Hong Kong was a Dependent Territory of the United Kingdommarker until its sovereignty was handed over to the PRC in 1997, while Macau was a Special Territory of Portugalmarker until its sovereignty was handed over to the PRC in 1999. Before the handovers, the Hong Kong-Guangdong and Macau-Guangdong borders were regarded as international borders.

Under the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", the two Special Administrative Regions continue to maintain their own customs and immigration policies, which are independent of those in Mainland China after the handovers. Due to differences in the policies between the special administrative regions and the Mainland, the Hong Kong-Guandgong and Macau-Guangdong borders have been maintained in operation after the handovers.

Hong Kongmarker has a border stretching 32 km with the Shenzhenmarker Special Economic Zone of Guangdong that features fences, thermal image sensors, lights and closed-circuit television. The border is also patrolled regularly by police. Just south of Shenzhen River (the geographical delimitation of the border) is a strip of rural land with restricted access, the 28 km² Closed Area. Currently, the four road border crossings are located at Sha Tau Kokmarker, Man Kam To, Lok Ma Chaumarker and Shenzhen Bay, and a railway and traveller crossing is located at Lo Wu. The residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region are required to have their Hong Kong ID Cards inspected by the Hong Kong Immigration Department and their Home Return Permits inspected by the Public Security Bureau of Guangdong when they cross the border.

Macaumarker has been maintaining a 340-metre controlled border with Zhuhai Citymarker in Guangdong with a crossing available at the Border Gatemarker (built in 1870). The border crossing is equipped with 54 counters for travelers and 8 for vehicular traffic. Opened in 1999, the Lotus Bridge in Macaumarker supplemented what has been the only border crossing into mainland China through Border Gate. Both border crossings allow access into Zhuhaimarker.

China, in October 2006, is also building a security barrier along its border with North Koreamarker to prevent the illegal immigrants from North Korea.


Map of Cyprus showing political divisions and districts

Since 1974 Turkeymarker has constructed and maintains a 300 km (187 mile) separation barrier along the 1974 Green Line (or ceasefire line) dividing the Republic of Cyprusmarker into two parts, in violation of multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions; the de facto Turkish controlled northern one-third of the Republic and the remaining southern two-thirds of Cyprusmarker to separate Turkish and Greek Cypriot populations.


A security fence around the Egyptian town of Sharm el-Sheikmarker was constructed in response to a spate of terrorist attacks at the resort. Government officials say the fence, equipped with checkpoints to allow vehicles into the area, will deter terrorists. In addition South Sinai Governor Mustafa Afifi said the fence will help control the effect of heavy seasonal rains and will reduce the number of vehicle-camel crashes that occur on the Sharm el-Sheik highway.

The Rafah Border Crossing (Arabic: معبر رفح‎, Hebrew: מעבר רפיח‎) is an international border crossing between Egyptian and Palestinian-controlled Rafah. It was built by the Israeli and Egyptian governments after the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty and 1982 Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, and was managed by the Israel Airports Authority until it was evacuated on 11 September 2005 as part of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan. It has since become the mission of the European Union Border Assistance Mission Rafah (EUBAM) to monitor the crossing.


Along the black-dotted line and on the working boundary
Since the mid-1990s, India has been involved in the construction of some of the lengthiest separation barriers along its international borders. Six of the nine countries neighboring India are classified as Least Developed Countries. As a consequence, thousands of people from these countries, especially from Bangladeshmarker, Nepalmarker and Burmamarker, illegally immigrate into India.

The Indo-Bangladeshi barrier and Indo-Burma barrier are being built to check smuggling, illegal immigration and possible infiltration by terrorists.

In addition, India completed the construction of the Indian Kashmir barrier which runs along the Line of Controlmarker in Kashmirmarker. The purpose of this barrier is to prevent infiltration by Pakistan-based militants and terrorists. The Indian government is also considering the construction of a barrier along the Indo-Pakistan border.



On 10 April 2007, the U.S. military began constructing a 5 km (3 mile) long, 3.6 metre (12 ft) high concrete wall around the predominantly Sunni district of Adhamiya in Baghdadmarker.


Due to Israelmarker's specific situation of being at war and conflict with much of its Middle Eastern environment, separation barriers and walls have been and remain an issue of major military (and often also political) concern:

  • Jerusalemmarker: During the 1950s and 1960s a fortified separation barrier also divided much of Jerusalem to separate Jordanianmarker and Israelimarker-controlled sectors of the city. It was pulled down in the immediate aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, when the eastern part of the city came under Israeli rule.
  • Lebanonmarker and Syriamarker: Israel's borders with Lebanon and Syria have sophisticated security barriers, including electronic surveillance and warning systems. The barrier along the Lebanese border follows the lines of the 1949 Armistice and was laid down in coordination with the UN, the government anxious to make clear that it had withdrawn completely from Lebanese territory (excepting the ongoing dispute on the Shaba Farmsmarker).
    • The barrier on the Syrian border on the Golan Heightsmarker reflects the situation in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, when Israeli retained the territory conquered in 1967 except for handing back the town of Kuneitramarker. The Syrian government has repeatedly demanded the return of the entire Golan, but has made no specific issue of Israel erecting a security barrier along the border as it presently stands.
  • Egyptmarker: Israel saw no need to fortify the Sinai Desert border with Egypt after the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty. The fence along that border was always more a marker than an effective barrier, and has become rusty and swamped by shifting sand dunes. The porous border has become the scene of extensive drug trafficking and the smuggling of women, typically from Third World and East European countries, who are subsequently forced into prostitution, as well as the entry of various refugees, asylum-seekers and illegal immigrants from various African countries, notably Sudanesemarker fleeing the genocide in Darfurmarker. There were also isolated cases of infiltration by armed Palestinians, and apprehension that they would increase. In December 2005 the government of Israel proposed building a £200 million security barrier along the Egyptian border, but as of late 2007 the funds have not been actually allocated.
  • Jordanmarker: The border of Israel's territory with Jordan, mostly in the Negevmarker Desert along the Arabah, is considered the most peaceful of the country's borders, due to traditional good relations with Jordan's Hashemite Dynasty. In March 2004, Israel and Jordan commenced a joint project to build a desert science centre on their shared border. They have taken down a stretch of the border fence between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea for the campus.
    • As well as the in the Negev, Israel also controls the West Bankmarker's border with Jordan in the Jordan Valley. Along this border there is a security barrier with a two-way aim, designed to stop both infiltration from Jordan into the Israeli-controlled territory and the passage of West Bank Palestinians, uncontrolled by Israeli officials, into Jordan.
  • Occupied Territories: Israel's most critical and volatile relations are with its direct neighbors, the Palestinians, which are reflected in maintaining separation barriers between Israel proper and the Occupied Territories, with the declared aim of and subsequent success in preventing infiltration by suicide bombers.
    • The Israeli Gaza Strip barrier involves a security barrier along Israel's 1949 Armistice lines. There is also the security barrier along the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt (see Philadelphi Route), erected when Israel was in direct military control of the area. Though Israeli forces were withdrawn in 2005, the Government of Israel retains a declared interest in the area, especially due to alleged large-scale smuggling of arms from Sinai into the Strip, and insists upon the Egyptians and Palestinians maintaining intact the barrier between their respective territories - such insistence backed by sometimes open threats to otherwise resume direct Israeli military control. This has been cited by Palestinians and others who assert that the Gaza Strip remains an Occupied Territory despite the Israeli Disengagement from Gaza in 2005.
    • The Israeli West Bank barrier is being built as a fence with wide margins and sophisticated electronic surveillance in rural areas, and an eight-meter high wall in urban areas. Of all Israel's separation barriers, it the most controversial - between Israelis and Palestinians, internationally, and also inside the Israeli society itself. The controversy stems mainly from the government's decision not to follow Israel's 1949 Armistice lines (Green Linemarker) but rather build the barrier within the West Bankmarker - in some stretches, deeply within. Opponents of the project (who usually call it "The Wall" rather than "Barrier" or "Fence") say that this proves its purpose is not to stop suicide bombers - which would been equally served by a fence along the Green Line - but by the intention to effectively annex parts of the West Bank, especially those where Israeli settlements have been established, as well as water sources - and define the future borders with Palestine unilaterally and ahead of negotiations. This position was supported by the International Court of Justicemarker at The Haguemarker, which ruled that Israel had the right to fortify its own border but that building a barrier inside an Occupied Territory constituted a violation of International Law; the government of Israel, however, disputes this interpretation and refuses to abide by this ruling. For its part, the Israeli Supreme Courtmarker held that building inside the West Bank is not illegal in itself, but ordered some changes to the route of the barrier where the judges considered the original route to cause severe damage to Palestinian daily life - especially in separating Palestinian villagers from their land. Some radical Israeli groups, such as Anarchists Against the Wall, actively participate in protests against the barrier together with the villagers. As of late 2007, the barrier - originally slated to be completed by the end of 2005 - is far from complete, and further construction was stopped, officially for lack of funds.


South Koreamarker has constructed a separation barrier between its territory and North Koreamarker to obstruct any southward movement by the army of North Korea.The border features:


Moroccomarker has constructed a separation barrier in Western Saharamarker to keep the guerrilla fighters of Polisario out.

Northern Ireland

In Belfastmarker, Derrymarker and other settlements in Northern Ireland, barriers have been built to separate the nationalist and unionist communities. These are euphemistically known as peace lines. More have continued to be constructed and expanded since the Belfast Agreement of 1998.


In September 2005, Pakistanmarker stated it has plans to build a 1,500-mile fence along its border with Afghanistanmarker to prevent Islamic insurgents and drug smugglers slipping between the two countries. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has subsequently offered to mine the border as well.


There is an electrionic security barrier (ex-"Iron Curtain") along the old Soviet border. Also, a security barrier is on the border of Russia with Norway, Finland, China, Mongolia and North Korea. There is no barrier on Russian territory along the border with Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, or Ukraine, but there are some barriers on Estonian, Latvian and Ukrainian territory along the Russian border.It was reported in 2005 that the Russianmarker government was considering the construction of a security barrier along its border with Chechnyamarker as part of its efforts to combat terrorism.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabiamarker has begun construction of a separation barrier or fence between its territory and Yemenmarker to prevent the unauthorized movement of people and goods into and out of the Kingdom.

In 2006 Saudi Arabia proposed plans for the construction of a security fence along the entire length of its 560 mile (900 km) desert border with Iraq in a multi-million dollar project to secure the Kingdom's borders in order to improve internal security, control illegal immigration and bolster its defences against external threats.

As of July 2009 it was reported that Saudis will pay $3.5 billion for security fence.

South Africa

In 1975 a 75-mile (120-kilometer) high security fence was erected by South Africa to keep the violent revolution in Mozambiquemarker from spilling into Kruger National Parkmarker. [45401]In 1990 it was reported:

A treaty signed on December 9, 2002 by the presidents of three countries - South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe allowed for the fence to be torn down in order to open the ancient elephant migration route between South Africa and Mozambique which was disrupted by the fence. The 13,513-square mile (35,000 square kilometer) Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park will connect the parks of three countries: South Africa's Kruger National Parkmarker, Mozambique's Limpopo National Parkmarker, and Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou National Parkmarker.

In 2005 it was reported that only a relatively small portion of the high-security border fence separating South Africa's Kruger National Park with Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou Park has been removed. Security concerns, especially about illegal immigrants and the smuggling of weapons and four-wheel-drive vehicles, have been hindering the removal of more sections of the border fence between the Kruger and Limpopo parks.


The European Union and Spainmarker have constructed barriers between the Spanish exclaves of Ceutamarker and Melillamarker and Moroccomarker to prevent illegal immigration and smuggling.


Thailandmarker plans to build a concrete fence along parts of its border with Malaysia to keep Muslim militants and dual citizens from crossing Thailand's southern border with Malaysiamarker.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE is building a security barrier along its border with Omanmarker.

United Nations

The United Nations has constructed a demilitarized zone to stop Iraqmarker from re-invading Kuwaitmarker; Kuwait plans to install a new separation barrier as well.

United States

The United Statesmarker has constructed a separation barrier along 130 kilometers of its border with Mexicomarker to prevent unauthorized immigration into the United States and to deter smuggling of contraband, particularly illegal drugs. There has been legislation in the U.S. Congress on lengthening the barrier, but progress has been slow, both from lobbying and lack of funding.


In 1999 Uzbekistanmarker began construction of a barbed wire fence to secure their border with Kyrgyzstanmarker. In 2001 Uzbekistan fortified the border fence with Afghanistanmarker.

Separation barriers in history

See also

External links


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