Over the last few weeks, hastily erected razor-wire fences have made headlines as they have appeared along Hungary’s border to keep out refugees fleeing war-torn countries. But this is actually not a new phenomenon: At least four more European countries have built fences in the last few years in a heightened effort to keep immigrants out.
A New York Times infographic shows how the route that many refugees previously used to travel from the Middle East into Western Europe has been disrupted by governments cracking down on immigration. While some of the measures to deter refugees are more policy-related — some countries are simply increasing foot patrols or performing more frequent passport checks — many borders have reverted to old-fashioned physical barriers. These fences are making life even more dangerous for refugees by forcing them to walk longer distances over treacherous terrain or travel by boat instead.
Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and now Hungary have all built their versions of the anti-immigrant fence along parts of their borders. Some are flimsy enough to be easily trampled, others are intricate tangles of barbed wire. In essence, countries are building actual pieces of infrastructure to stop the flow of people crossing borders.
We’re watching Europe change before our eyes in ways that we haven’t seen since the end of the Cold War.
Migrants wait behind a fence to pass the borders from the northern Greek town of Idomeni, to southern Macedonia (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Border policemen stand at the Bulgarian-Turkish border near the village of Golyam Dervent, Thursday, Nov. 28 2013. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
A Turkish soldier stands guard in Akcakale, southeastern Turkey (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Children wait behind a fence to pass with their families in the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija. (AP Photo/Borce Popovski)
Migrants walk along the border fence between Serbia and Hungary, near Horgos, Serbia. (Zoltan Mathe/MTI via AP)
[View maps of the fences at The New York Times]
Top image: A border fence in Hungary near the Serbian and the Romanian borders, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. (Tamas Soki/MTI via AP)