The United Nation has condemned a remark credited to President of the Unites States Donald Trump, which described immigrants coming from Africa and Haiti as “shithole countries,” even as it branded it “racist.”
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.
“Shocking and shameful”: comments from the President of the United States go “against universal values” according to @UNHumanRights spox Rupert Colville speaking in Geneva today pic.twitter.com/a5D6v4E4mg
— UN Geneva (@UNGeneva) January 12, 2018
In a statement, the White House did not deny the account, instead highlighting Trump’s hardline immigration stance.
“If confirmed these are shocking and shameful comments from the President of the United States,” the UN human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, told a Geneva news briefing.
“There is no other word you can use but ‘racist’.”
“You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘s***holes’, whose entire populations who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”
Mr Colville added: “This isn’t just a story about vulgar language, it’s about opening the door to humanity’s worst side, about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia.”
However, 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.
“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country,” he continued.
“Never said ‘take them out’. Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”
Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
The African Union (AU), a group representing all 55 countries on the continent, said it was “frankly alarmed” by the US President’s alleged comments.
“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 said.
“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.”