Separation barrier

Separation barrier

A 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 China from nomadic powers to the north; the most prominent recent example was the Berlin Wall that separated the enclave of West Berlin from the rest of East Germany during most of the Cold War era.


Current barriers

Note: The table can be sorted alphabetically or chronologically using the Sort none.gif icon.

Name Country Built Length (km) Type
Baghdad Wall Adhamiya, Iraq Under construction 5 Civil pacification
Belfast Peace Lines United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) 1969–present 0.5 (average) Civil pacification
Botswana/Zimbabwe Botswana and Zimbabwe 2003 500 Anti-illegal immigration
Brunei/Limbang Brunei and Limbang 2005 20 Anti-illegal immigration
Ceuta border fence Spain 2001 8 Anti-illegal immigration
China/Hong Kong China 1960s -early 32 Internal barrier
China/Macau China 1870 0.34 Internal barrier
China/North Korea China and North Korea Under construction 1,416 Anti-illegal immigration
Egypt-Gaza barrier Egypt 1979, subterranean barrier under construction 3.1 Anti-terrorism and anti-illegal immigration
Malaysia-Thailand border Thailand and Malaysia Proposed 650 Anti-terrorism
Melilla border fence Spain 1998 11 Anti-illegal immigration
Indo-Bangladeshi barrier India Under construction 3,268 Anti-illegal immigration
Indo-Burma barrier India Under construction 1,624 Anti-drug smuggling and anti-terrorism
Indian Kashmir barrier India 2004 550 Anti-terrorism (disputed territory)
Iran-Pakistan barrier Iran and Pakistan Under construction 700 Anti-drug smuggling
Israeli West Bank barrier Israel - West Bank Under construction 703 Anti-terrorism (disputed territory)
Kazakh-Uzbekistan barrier Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan 2006 45 Anti-drug smuggling
Korean Wall North Korea and South Korea 1953 248 Conflict zone
Kruger National Park South Africa and Mozambique 1975 120 Anti-illegal immigration
Kuwait-Iraq barrier Kuwait and Iraq 1991 193 Conflict zone
Pakistan-Afghanistan barrier Pakistan Proposed 2,400 Anti-terrorism
Russia/Chechnya Chechnya (Russia) Proposed 700 Anti-terrorism (disputed territory)
Saudi-Yemen barrier Saudi Arabia and Yemen 2004 75 Anti-illegal immigration
Sharm el-Sheikh Egypt 2005 20 Anti-terrorism
Turkmen-Uzbekistan barrier Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan 2001 1,700 Anti-illegal immigration
United Arab Emirates-Oman barrier United Arab Emirates and Oman Under construction 410 Anti-illegal immigration
United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus Cyprus and Northern Cyprus 1974 300 Conflict zone
United States–Mexico barrier United States Under construction 3,360 Anti-illegal immigration and drug smuggling
Uzbek-Afghanistan barrier Uzbekistan and Afghanistan 2001 209 Anti-illegal immigration
Uzbek-Kyrgyzstan barrier Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan 1999 870 Conflict zone
Western Sahara, Berm of Morocco 1987 2,700 Conflict zone (disputed territory)



In January 2006, Afghanistan's government decreed that the United Nations, the American embassy and other foreign organizations in Kabul 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, Botswana began building a 300-mile (480 km)-long electric fence along its border with Zimbabwe. 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.[2]


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

People's Republic of China

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

Hong Kong was a Dependent Territory of the United Kingdom until its sovereignty was handed over to the PRC in 1997, while Macau was a Special Territory of Portugal 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 Kong has a border stretching 32 km with the Shenzhen 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 Kok, Man Kam To, Lok Ma Chau 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.

Macau has been maintaining a 340-metre controlled border with Zhuhai City in Guangdong with a crossing available at the Border Gate (built in 1870).[3] The border crossing is equipped with 54 counters for travelers and 8 for vehicular traffic. Opened in 1999, the Lotus Bridge in Macau supplemented what has been the only border crossing into mainland China through Border Gate. Both border crossings allow access into Zhuhai.

China, in October 2006, is also building a security barrier along its border with North Korea to prevent the illegal immigrants from North Korea.[4]


Map of Cyprus showing political divisions and districts

Since 1974 Turkey has constructed and maintains a separation barrier of 300 kilometres (190 mi) along the 1974 Green Line (or ceasefire line) dividing the Republic of Cyprus 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 Cyprus to separate Turkish and Greek Cypriot populations.


A security fence around the Egyptian town of Sharm el-Sheik 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.


The land borders of Greece with Turkey is in fact Evros River

After having made an agreement with Frontex on the guard of the maritime borders of Greece with Turkey[5] the Greek government decided a wall to be built at the land border with Turkey, the Evros River.[6] These actions have been made as a reaction to the illegal immigration to Greece through the Greco-Turkish borders. These immigrants are originated from Muslim Asian and African states. From January to the beginning of November 2010, 32,500 illegal migrants were intercepted in a single 12.5-kilometer stretch of the Turkish-Greek border along the Evros river.[7] Actually this site is the main entrance of illegal immigrants to the EU from the Asian continent.[7] Illegal immigration is a current subject between the two countries.


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 Bangladesh, Nepal and Burma, 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 Control in Kashmir. The purpose of this barrier is to prevent infiltration by Pakistan-based Azad Kashmiris to visit their families. 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 3.6 metre (12 ft) high concrete wall of 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) around the predominantly Sunni district of Adhamiya in Baghdad.


Due to Israel'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:

  • Jerusalem: During the 1950s and 1960s a fortified separation barrier also divided much of Jerusalem to separate Jordanian and Israeli-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. Currently, the route of the separation barrier in Jerusalem cuts off residents of the Jerusalem municipality from Jerusalem proper.[8]
  • Lebanon and Syria: 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 Farms).
    • The barrier on the Syrian border on the Golan Heights reflects the situation in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, when Israel retained the territory conquered in 1967 except for handing back the town of Kuneitra. 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.
  • Egypt: 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 Sudanese fleeing the genocide in Darfur. 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.
  • Jordan: The border of Israel's territory with Jordan, mostly in the Negev 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 Bank'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 is 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 Line) but rather build the barrier within the West Bank - 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 be equally served by a fence along the Green Line – but by the intention, effectively, to annexe parts of the West Bank, especially those where Israeli settlements have been established, as well as water sources – and to define the future borders with Palestine unilaterally and ahead of negotiations. This position was supported by the International Court of Justice at The Hague, 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 Court 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 Korea has constructed a separation barrier[citation needed] between its territory and North Korea to obstruct any southward movement by the army of North Korea. The border features:[improper synthesis?]


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

Northern Ireland

A "peace line" in Belfast

In Belfast, Derry and other settlements in Northern Ireland, barriers called "peace lines" have been built to separate the two main communities. Their purpose is to minimize inter-communal violence between Irish nationalists/republicans (who mainly self-identify as Irish and/or Catholic) and unionists/loyalists (who mainly self-identify as British and/or Protestant). They were first built following the 1969 riots and beginning of the "Troubles". They have continued to be built and expanded since the Belfast Agreement of 1998.


In September 2005, Pakistan stated it has plans to build a 1,500-mile (2,400 km) fence along its border with Afghanistan 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.[9][10]


There is an electronic 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 Russian government was considering the construction of a security barrier along its border with Chechnya as part of its efforts to combat terrorism.[11]

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has begun construction of a separation barrier or fence between its territory and Yemen 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 desert border of 900 kilometres (560 mi) 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.[12]

Security fence along the South Africa-Mozambique border.

As of July 2009 it was reported that Saudis will pay $3.5 billion for security fence.[13]

South Africa

In 1975 a security fence of 120 kilometres (75 mi) was erected by South Africa to keep the violent revolution in Mozambique from spilling into Kruger National Park. [1] In 1990 it was reported:

Concern is growing in South Africa over the country's use of a lethal, 3,300 volt one amp electrified fence on its borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe. According to a report recently published by the South African Catholic Bureau for Refugees, the fence has caused more deaths in three years than the Berlin Wall did in its entire history. Local people call the fence the 'Snake of Fire'. There have been calls by South African church leaders over the past months for the fence to be switched off permanently. Most of its victims have been women and children fleeing the war in Mozambique. The Berlin Wall resulted in 80 deaths over 28 years. Official figures provided by the South African Defence Force (SADF) indicate that 89 people were electrocuted at the fence between August 1986 and August 1989. Church leaders dispute these figures, and claim that the true figure is nearer 200 each year.[14]

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 Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park of 35,000 square kilometres (14,000 sq mi) will connect the parks of three countries: South Africa's Kruger National Park, Mozambique's Limpopo National Park, and Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou National Park.[15]

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.[16]


The European Union and Spain have constructed barriers between the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and Morocco to prevent illegal immigration and smuggling.

Even though both the United Kingdom and Spain are part of the European Union, the border fence separating Gibraltar and Spain is still relevant since Gibraltar is not part of the Schengen Area and is outside of the customs union and VAT area. The border crossing is open twenty-four hours a day to facilitate customs collection by Spain.


Thailand 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 Malaysia.

  • Thai-Malay barrier

United Arab Emirates

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

United Nations

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

  • Kuwait/Iraq Separation barrier

United States

Beach in Tijuana, Mexico at the US border. Photo taken before security upgrades.

The United States has constructed a separation barrier along 130 kilometres (81 mi) of its border with Mexico of 3,169 kilometres (1,969 mi) 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 Uzbekistan began construction of a barbed wire fence to secure their border with Kyrgyzstan.

In 2001 Uzbekistan fortified the border fence with Afghanistan.

The Berlin Wall 1986

Separation barriers in history

See also

External links


  1. ^ see (in french)"Des murs entre les hommes" ALEXANDRA NOVOSSELOFF, FRANK NEISSE, La Documentation française, 2007
  2. ^ Phillips, Barnaby (2004-03-30). "Zimbabwe crisis spills over border". BBC News. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  3. ^ Barrier Gate of Macau, Macau Barrier Gate. Macau Gate, Portas do Cerco Macau, Macau Sightseeing Tour, Asiarooms
  4. ^ China building border fence facing North Korea
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ "Behind the Wall- Shuafat Camp", Ir Amim Special Report. 2006.
  9. ^ "Pakistan doing all it can in terror war - Musharraf". Turkish weekly. February 28, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-03. "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said on Monday his country was doing all it could in the U.S.-led war against terrorism and offered to fence and mine its border with Afghanistan to stem Taliban infiltration. "I have been telling Karzai and the United States, 'Let us fence the border and let us mine it.' Today I say it again. Let us mine their entire border. Let us fence it. It's not difficult", Musharraf said, referring to Afghan President Hamid Karzai." 
  10. ^ Plett, Barbara (March 1, 2006). "Musharraf interview: Full transcript". BBC News. Retrieved 2006-12-03. "Now the other thing that I've said: if he thinks everyone is crossing from here, I've been saying let us fence the border and let us also mine the border. We are experts at mining, they should mine the border on their side. We will fence it on our side. If that is all right I am for it, so that they are not allowed to go across at all. And then let us see what is happening in Afghanistan. Why don't they agree to this, I've said this openly many times before, they don't do it, for whatever are their reasons. I know how effective the fence, the Indian fence which is about 1,800 kilometres, and they are fencing the Kashmir mountains also, it is so difficult. Why are they doing that, are they mad, they are spending billions of rupees. Because it is effective. Let's fence this border so that this blame game is killed once for ever." 
  11. ^ Katz, Yaacov (November 8, 2005). "Israel may export fence to Russia". Retrieved 2007-03-05. "The Russian government is mulling the construction of a security barrier along the border with Chechnya similar to Israel's West Bank security fence as part of its efforts to combat Muslim terror" 
  12. ^ Saudis plan to fence off border with chaos, The Times, April 10, 2006.
  13. ^ Saudis will pay $3.5 billion for security fence
  14. ^ 'Hundreds killed' by South Africa's border fence, New Scientist, Issue 1701, January 27, 1990.
  15. ^ Cross-Border Park Is Africa's Largest Wildlife Refuge, National Geographic Society, February 11, 2003.
  16. ^ Kruger elephants head for Mozambique, Independent Online, March 27, 2005.
  17. ^ The Hmong

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