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The Dominican Republic began construction of a wall along its border with Haiti this week in an effort to halt the smuggling of goods, weapons and drugs, Reuters reported.
The wall will stretch nearly 122 miles and includes the construction of 70 watchtowers and 41 access gates. It will also be fitted with cameras, motion sensors and radar, according to officials.
President of the Dominican Republic Luis Abinader said the barrier will help reduce the number of illegal migrants crossing the border from Haiti and fight organized crime in both nations, Sky News noted.
Though inhabitants of the same small island, the two countries differ greatly in terms of stability and development: Haiti, the hemisphere’s most impoverished country, is currently facing skyrocketing crime rates and political instability following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last year. Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic remains a popular tourist destination and has prospered in recent years.
Many Haitians have crossed the border to the Dominican Republic in search of work in the fields and in construction. A 2018 immigration survey found that about 500,000 Haitians and tens of thousands of their descendants live in the country of nearly 11 million people.
The commencement of the wall’s construction comes just a week before the anniversary of the Dominican Republic’s independence from Haiti, on Feb. 27, 1844.