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Dominican Republic begins building border wall with Haiti

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Dominican government says it has begun building a 392-kilometre (244 miles) border wall with Haiti to stop irregular migration, smuggling of goods, weapons and drugs.

“The benefit for both nations will be of great importance,” Dominican President Luis Abinader said shortly before pushing the button for the work to begin.

The wall in the province of Dajabón is some 230 kilometres northwest of the capital.

While the two countries share the Island of Hispaniola, they are worlds apart in terms of development.

Crime-plagued Haiti is one of the poorest nations in the Americas while the Dominican Republic, a popular Caribbean tourist destination, has prospered in recent decades amid marked political stability.

Many Haitians cross the border clandestinely in search of work in the fields or in the construction industry in the Dominican Republic.

About 500,000 Haitians and thousands of their descendants live in the Dominican Republic, a Spanish-speaking nation of about 11 million people, according to the most recent immigration survey conducted in 2018.

Abinader estimated the border wall will reduce the smuggling of commercial goods, weapons and help fight organized crime in both nations.

He started the project, which aims to build a 164 kilometre wall, ahead of the anniversary of the Dominican Republic’s independence from Haiti on Feb. 27, 1844.

Abinader said the first phase of the project would be completed within nine months at the latest.

The 20-centimetre-thick concrete wall topped by a metal mesh will be 3.9 meters (12.8 ft) high and will have fiber optics for communications, movement sensors, cameras, radars and drones.

The project also includes the construction of 70 watchtowers and 41 access gates for patrolling.

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