The United Nations human rights office has strongly criticised “racist” comments by Donald Trump in which he said immigrants from Africa and Haiti come from “shithole” countries.
UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said the comments are “shocking and shameful comments from the President of the United States”.
“There is no other word one can use but ‘racist’,” he told reporters at a briefing in Geneva.
You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome." UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville
The issue was more than “vulgar language,” Colville added.
“It’s about opening the door to humanity’s worst side, about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia that will potentially disrupt and destroy lives of many people.”
Trump on Friday denied he used the language attributed to him.
However, that claim has been dismissed by US Senator Dick Durbin who said Trump did use “vile, vulgar” language during the immigration meeting with lawmakers, including the word “shithole”, Reuters reported.
The UN’s Colville added that Trump had also failed to clearly condemn the “anti-Semitic and racist actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville” at a rally in Virginia last August.
Trump’s remarks led to Piers Morgan, who often defends him, calling on the President to apologise as the comments were “outrageous, disgraceful and racist”.
The former Haitian president Laurent Lamothe wrote on Twitter that the “world is witnessing a new low”.
In contrast, the UN branded Trump’s Muslim travel ban “mean-spirited” and a waste of resources.
The program that was being discussed at the White House when Trump made his latest remarks is called Temporary Protected Status.
In November, the Trump administration decided to end the status for immigrants from Haiti and Nicaragua. It gave the approximately 59,000 Haitian immigrants who had been granted the status until July 2019 to return home or legalise their presence in the US. Nicaraguans were given until January 2019.
“The future of the Dreamers should not be used as a bargaining chip to negotiate the most severe and restrictive immigration and security measures possible. These are human beings, not commodities,” Colville said.
“Dreamers” is term used for undocumented immigrants who were brought into the US as children.
William Spindler, a UN refugee agency spokesman, declined to comment directly on Trump’s purported remarks:
“But what I can say is that UNHCR’s position is always that people forced to flee war or persecution, and needing asylum, should be given protection by whichever country they are in, irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity or place or country of origin,” he said.
The UN’s response comes after Trump declared he would not visit London next month to cut the ribbon on the new US embassy because the building’s relocation was a “bad deal”.
Trump tweeted early on Friday morning to confirm a story in the Daily Mail that he had cancelled the visit, which London Mayor Sadiq Khan suggested he had “got the message” that he was not welcome.