In 2013, the Guardian published an interactive page about “Our Walled World”, reviewing the main sensitive places in the world where walls were built in the recent years, for religious, political and military purposes.
As the authors say:
“Almost a quarter of a century after the Iron Curtain came down, the walls are going up again. In steel and concrete, with watchtowers and barbed wire, mankind is building separation barriers at a rate perhaps unequalled in history – at least 6,000 miles in the last decade alone, according to a Guardian analysis”.
Scrolling down, we discover a selection of ten world region in Europe, North and South America, Middle East and Asia where issues around the walls are critical. Interviews of inhabitants describing their life conditions since the walls were erected give a very realistic perspective of “our walled world”, instead of a cold analysis “from above” most media do. Videos embedded also give a voice to the locals, who all have one thing in common no matter where they live: they did not built nor wanted the wall.
Jon Henley, author of the Guardian article on “Walls: an illusion of security from Berlin to the West Bank“, says:
“It is not just walls separating divided communities in cities such as Belfast and Homs, or compounds hermetically sealed to divide rich from poor such as in São Paulo. The vast majority of barriers are going up on borders – and not just around dictatorships or pariah states”
Indeed, as Jon Henley keeps on:
“[...] some of the world’s leading democracies including the US, Israel and India have, in the past decade, built thousands of miles of barriers along borders both recognised and disputed. Since 2006, the US has erected 600 miles of fence along its Mexican border. Israel is building a 400-mile West Bank barrier, plus another 165-mile fence along its Egyptian border. India has built a 340-mile barrier along the so-called Line of Control of its disputed border with Pakistan, and is busily constructing another 2,500-mile fence on its frontier with Bangladesh. Last year, Greece threw up a four-metre-high wall along its short land border with Turkey”
As mentioned on the “What are Borders?” article from this blog, walls hurt the well-being of people suffering them, not just because of the mobility restriction.
Having very strong symbolic power, walls also build barriers in minds and conscious, imposing hard divisions between neighbors and cultures, pushing people to define themselves “as opposed as” others, on the other side of the wall.
This map from the strategic and diplomatic research center Raoul-Dandurand (University of Quebec in Montreal) show how the number of walls built in the world dramatically increased after the O9/11, jumping from 22 to almost 50 in a decade, representing the highest growth of than number since… ever.
The reasons for building walls reveal the main geopolitics issues of modern times: fighting against illegal immigration is a major concern for rich countries refusing to welcome more “outsiders”. Nationalism still stand strong when it comes to “defend lifestyle and identity”, although the free market law dominates world trade.