Washington: Us President Donald Trump’s dismissal of Haiti, El Salvador and all of Africa as “shithole countries” whose people are not desirable for US immigration shocked people around the world and provoked swift condemnation.
The President made the remarks on Thursday during a White House meeting with lawmakers. And reactions from around the world were swift.
“The African Union Commission is frankly alarmed at statements by the president of the United States when referring to migrants of African countries and others in such contemptuous terms,” said Ebba Kalondo, the spokeswoman for commission chair Moussa Faki. “Considering the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the US during the Atlantic slave trade, this flies in the face of all accepted practice.”
She added that the statement was particularly unpleasant coming from the leader of country that is a “global example” of how a strong country can be the product of migration.
In El Salvador, the news of the comments quickly shot to the top of news websites.
In Haiti, people took to Twitter to share pictures of their country — verdant green hills, palm trees in the sunset, and sparkling turquoise water.
Haiti’s ambassador to the US condemned the statements and said that the country had asked for an official explanation of Trump’s comments from American officials.
“In the spirit of the people of Haiti we feel in the statements, if they were made, the President was either misinformed or miseducated about Haiti and its people, “ the ambassador, Paul G. Altidor, said in a statement.
Altidor said the Haitian Embassy in Washington was inundated with emails from Americans apologising for Trump’s remarks, which he found heartening.
In Africa, where the entire continent was dismissed by Trump, there were similar reactions celebrating their countries’ beauty, with a well-known presenter for South Africa’s broadcaster SABC tweeting “Good morning from the greatest most beautiful ‘shithole country’ in the world!!”
Trump’s comments were “shocking and shameful”, said a spokesman for the UN human rights office, Rupert Colville.
Many on the world’s second-most populous continent reached for their smartphones, long-practised in defending it from easy stereotypes. While 40 per cent of the world’s poor live in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the International Monetary Fund, the region also has billionaires, reality shows and a growing middle class.
The World Bank yesterday tweeted that sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth this year is forecast at 3.2 per cent. That was the US economy’s annual rate of growth from July through September, according to Commerce Department data last month.
Some said they thought Trump had a point, in a way. One lawmaker in Ghana called for a boycott by developing countries against the US until Trump leaves office. As outrage spread, the US government’s own Africa Media Hub tried to put out the flames.
Without directly referring to Trump’s statement, it tweeted that “US deeply respects the people of #Africa & values its partnerships with them. (sic)”
Meanwhile, Trump had his first medical exam as US president yesterday after a week in which his mental fitness has come under intense scrutiny.