(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) The Dominican Republic started construction of a border wall between it and its only neighbor, Haiti, in an effort to reduce illegal border crossings and smuggling, Newsmax reported.
The wall will stretch 122 miles, spanning almost half of the full border length between the two countries, which share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.
Dominican President Luis Abinader said the wall will help fight organized crime in both nations, particularly the smuggling of goods, weapons and drugs.
According to the Epoch Times, the wall will be 12.8 feet high and will have movement sensors, cameras, radars and drones. It will be made of concrete nearly 8 inches thick and be topped by a metal mesh.
Construction also includes 70 new watchtowers and 41 access gates.
He started the project ahead of the anniversary of the Dominican Republic’s independence from Haiti on February 27, 1844.
Abinader predicted the first phase of the project will be completed within nine months.
The Dominican Republic has prospered in the last few decades, with a flourishing tourism industry and a notable period of political stability.
Haiti, on the other hand, is one of the poorest nations in the Americas and is known for violent crime—including kidnappings, gang violence, robberies and carjackings.
A series of natural disasters and the assassination last July of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse have further compounded the impoverished country’s suffering, triggering a mass migration that also has led many Haitian asylum-seekers to the open border between the United State and Mexico.
The U.S. State Department has a “do not travel” advisory in effect for Haiti after a missionary group who traveled to Haiti was kidnapped. They were all released after two months of captivity.
“Do not travel to Haiti due to kidnapping, crime, civil unrest, and COVID-19,” the advisory read. “Kidnapping is widespread and victims regularly include U.S. citizens.”
“Kidnappers may use sophisticated planning or take advantage of unplanned opportunities, and even convoys have been attacked,” it added. “Kidnapping cases often involve ransom negotiations and U.S. citizen victims have been physically harmed during kidnappings. Victim’s families have paid thousands of dollars to rescue their family members.”
Abinader said Haiti’s crime crisis is an issue that “must be overcome by the Haitians themselves.”