Friday, 12 January 2018

BREAKING: UN condemns Donald Trump's 'shithole countries' remark as racist



Remarks by Donald Trump describing immigrants from Africa and Haiti as coming from “shithole countries” were racist, the United Nations human rights office has said, as it led global condemnation of the US president.

On Thursday, Trump questioned why the US would want to have immigrants from Haiti and African nations, suggesting instead more immigrants should come from Norway, whose prime minister he had met on Wednesday.

According to a report in the Washington Post, Trump said: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” after he had been presented with a proposal to restore protections for immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and certain African nations as part of a bipartisan immigration deal.

In a statement, the White House did not deny the account, instead highlighting Trump’s hardline immigration stance.

The UN human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, told a Geneva news briefing: “There is no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”

On Friday morning, Trump tweeted that the language he had used in the meeting had been tough, but said the reported words were not precisely the ones he had used.

Robin Diallo, the US chargé d’affaires to Haiti, has been summoned to meet the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, to discuss Trump’s remarks. The former Haitian president Laurent Lamothe expressed his dismay, saying Trump had shown“ a lack of respect and ignorance”.

El Salvador’s foreign minister, Hugo Martinez, tweeted about Salvadoran contributions to the US. “A good part of those who helped rebuild New Orleans after Katrina were Salvadoran. I feel proud to be Salvadoran,” he wrote.

US diplomats and the US embassy in San Salvador sought to assure those in El Salvador of their respect for the country.

Jean Manes, the US envoy to El Salvador, tweeted in Spanish: “I have had the privilege to travel around this beautiful country and meet thousands of Salvadorans. It is an honour to live and work here. We remain 100% committed.”

Across Africa there was diplomatic fury. Botswana’s government called Trump’s comment “reprehensible and racist” and said the US ambassador had been summoned to clarify whether the nation was regarded as a “shithole” country after years of cordial relations. Uganda’s state minister for international relations, Henry Okello Oryem, called the remarks “unfortunate and regrettable.”

The African Union said it was “alarmed” by Trump’s language. “Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behaviour and practice,” AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo told the Associated Press.

“This is particularly surprising as the United States of America remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity.”

Jessie Duarte, the deputy secretary general of South Africa’s ruling ANC, said: “Ours is not a shithole country; neither is Haiti or any other country in distress. It’s not as if the United States doesn’t have problems. There is unemployment in the US, there are people who don’t have healthcare services.”

The leader of South Africa’s main opposition party, Mmusi Maimane, described the comments as “abhorrent”. “[Trump] confirms a patronising view of Africa and promotes a racist agenda. Africa/US relations will take strain from this, with a leader who has failed to reconcile humanity. The hatred of Obama’s roots now extends to an entire continent,” Maimane tweeted.

Mexico’s former president, Vicente Fox, who has been an outspoken critic of Trump, said in a colourful tweet that “America’s greatness was built on diversity”. He added Trump’s mouth was “the foulest shithole in the world. With what authority do you announce who is welcome in America and who is not? America’s greatness is based on diversity, or have you forgotten your migration background, Donald?”

David Miliband, the president of the International Rescue Committee, said Trump’s comments were leading a “race to the bottom on refugees”.

Trump has made few references to Africa since his election, and many senior Africa-focused posts in his administration remain unfilled.

In September, he appeared to invent a new country called Nambia while addressing African leaders in Washington. Trump also told them: “I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. It has a tremendous business potential.”

The US government’s Africa Media Hub made an effort to limit the diplomatic damage of the president’s words.

Without directly referring to Trump’s statement, a tweet said that “US remains committed to working together w/Africans to realize the promise of a more peaceful, more productive, more prosperous 21st century Africa. US deeply respects the people of #Africa & values its partnerships with them.”

Boniface Mwangi, a well-known social activist in Kenya tweeted that Africa “isn’t a shithole”.

“It’s the most beautiful continent in the world. Beautiful, hardworking people. We have diamonds, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, copper, bauxite, silver, petroleum, cocoa, coffee, tea etc. Sadly we have #shithole leaders like Trump shitting on us everyday,” Mwangi said.

Standing at a coffee stall outside an office block in Rosebank , a commercial and business neighbourhood in central Johannesburg, Blessing Dlamini, a 45-year-old administrative assistant, said Trump’s words came as “no surprise”.

“He has shown the world he is a racist. We should just block him from our thoughts,” Dlamini said. (The Guardian)

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