This week, Hungary completed construction of a fence along its Serbian border to keep out refugees trying to enter the European Union, a move that has sparked controversy worldwide. Opponents argue the fence not only shows a lack of compassion for people fleeing war and persecution, but that it also violates E.U. laws. On Wednesday, Hungarian police unleashed tear gas and pepper spray against hundreds of asylum-seekers trying to break through the fence.
Hungary’s not the only country fencing off its neighbors, as a recent data visualization from The Economist demonstrates. Ukraine started sealing off its border with Russia last year, with the Baltic states close behind. Reports have been circulating in recent days that Romania will build a fence to seal itself off from Serbia too. Judging by the fences planned or still under construction, Europe will soon have more border fences than it had during the Cold War.
As The Economist‘s map shows, red lines indicate fences that are completed or under construction and green lines indicate fences that have been proposed. Click on a country and a chart at the bottom pulls up which country the fence seals off, when the construction began and was completed, and the reasons for building it. The United States, for example, built its fence against Cuba for “territorial” reasons, while its shared border with Mexico’s border is sealed for fear of “immigration, smuggling.” Clicking any of the 39 other countries with physical barriers reveals that almost all cite security or prevention of illegal migrants as justifications.
Considered alongside the numbers of refugees seeking asylum, the growing number of border barriers depicts a bleak view of the future, with 60 million people forcibly displaced from their homes right now–the highest number in history. In slightly uplifting news, even as governments turn away those seeking asylum, individual citizens worldwide are mobilizing to help.