The African Union has demanded that President Donald Trump apologize after he reportedly called nations on the continent “shitholes”.
The organization’s mission in Washington DC expressed its “shock, dismay and outrage” and said the Trump administration misunderstood Africans.
President Trump made the alleged remark in a meeting on immigration on January 11.
However, the president has denied using the language reported.
President Trump has been backed by two Republicans who were at the White House meeting, but Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said Donald Trump called African countries “shitholes” several times and used “racist” language.
On January 12, President Trump tweeted that his language he used at the private meeting with lawmakers to discuss immigration legislation had been “tough”.
However, he added that the words attributed to him were “not the language used”.
The African Union said the “remarks dishonor the celebrated American creed and respect for diversity and human dignity”.
The organization representing African countries added: “While expressing our shock, dismay and outrage, the African Union strongly believes that there is a huge misunderstanding of the African continent and its people by the current Administration.
“There is a serious need for dialogue between the US Administration and the African countries.”
It represents 55 member states throughout the African continent. The group succeeded the Organization of African Unity – which originated in the decolonization struggles of the early 1960s – in 2002.
President Trump’s remarks were allegedly made when lawmakers visited him on January 11 to discuss a bipartisan proposal that would impose new restrictions on immigration but protect the so-called “Dreamers” – hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the US illegally as children – from deportation.
The president was said to have told them that instead of granting temporary residency to citizens of countries hit by natural disasters, war or epidemics, the US should instead be taking in migrants from countries like Norway.
The Washington Post quoted President Trump as saying: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
Senator Dick Durbin said that when President Trump was told that the largest groups of immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) were from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti, the president responded: “Haitians? Do we need more Haitians?”
However, in another tweet on January 12, President Trump denied that he insulted Haitians.
On January 11, many media outlets reported President Trump’s comments, quoting witnesses or people briefed on the meeting. However, the White House did not deny them.