US President Donald Trump holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, US, January 10, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
A group of 54 "extremely appalled" African countries demanded Friday that US President Donald Trump retract and apologize for his reported denunciation of immigration from "shithole" nations.
After an emergency session to weigh Trump's remarks, the group of African ambassadors to the United Nations said it was "concerned at the continuing and growing trend from the US administration toward Africa and people of African descent to denigrate the continent and people of color."
The group is "extremely appalled at, and strongly condemns the outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks by the president of the United States of America as widely reported by the media," a statement added, demanding a "retraction and an apology."
Sources told Reuters on Thursday that Trump had questioned why the United States would want immigrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti and some African countries during a briefing on draft immigration legislation.
Trump denied on Friday using such derogatory language, but he had already been widely condemned in many African countries and by international rights organizations.
“Ours is not a shithole country and neither is Haiti or any other country in distress,” Jessie Duarte, the deputy secretary general of South Africa's ruling African National Congress told reporters at a news conference in East London.
“We would not deign to make comments as derogatory as that about any country that has any kind of socio-economic or other difficulties,” Duarte said, adding that much like their African counterparts, millions of US citizens were affected by problems such as unemployment.
People protest against Trump's words in US. (Photo: Reuters)
Botswana's foreign ministry summoned the US ambassador in protest and called the comments “highly irresponsible, reprehensible and racist.”
It said in a statement that it had asked the US government, through its ambassador, to “clarify” if the derogatory remark also applied to Botswana given that there were Botswana nationals living in the United States and others who wished to go there.
The African Union (AU), an organization which promotes cooperation on the continent, said it was alarmed by Trump’s “very racist” comments.
“Given the historical reality of how African Americans arrived in the United States as slaves, and the United States being the biggest example of how a nation has been built by migration - for a statement like that to come is particularly upsetting,” AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said.
Trump reportedly also suggested that America should instead welcome people from countries such as Norway, an invitation a number of Norwegians rejected on Friday.
The Nordic country, one of the richest in the world by GDP per capita, was last year named the happiest nation on the planet by a UN body, and is known for a cradle-to-grave welfare state.
“On behalf of Norway: Thanks, but no thanks,” tweeted Torbjoern Saetre, a politician representing Norway’s Conservative Party in a municipality near Oslo.
Others condemned the US president's comments as inappropriate or racist.
“We are not coming. Cheers from Norway,” one woman wrote.
A woman sells fish on a street in Lagos, Nigeria, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. (Photo: AP)