The Central African Republic’s president accused the West on Thursday of causing the continent’s migration crisis by plundering its natural resources via slavery and colonization.
Faustin Archange Touadera spoke at the United Nations General Assembly about the migrant crisis on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where hundreds of African migrants arrived last week, overwhelming the local people and causing enormous headaches for the European Union.
“These young people who symbolize the present and the future of our continent are desperately seeking to join the countries of the European continent in search of an El Dorado,” Touadera said.
“This escalation of the migrant crisis is one of the appalling consequences of the plundering of natural resources of countries made poor by slavery, colonization and Western imperialism, terrorism and internal armed conflicts,” he added.
Touadera’s remarks contrasted dramatically with those of Italy’s right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who blamed the situation on migrant smugglers and said that Africa was a prosperous continent.
Lampedusa, Italy’s southernmost island, is fewer than 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the Tunisian coast and has traditionally served as a port of entry for migrants from North Africa.
However, it was overwhelmed last week, when the UN migration agency reported that 8,500 people — more than the whole local population — arrived in 199 boats over the course of three days.
EU authorities hurried to respond, and the European Commission’s president, the EU’s executive arm, was slated to visit the island on Sunday.
Touadera praised the “solidarity and incredible efforts” of the countries hosting migrants, but said Africa should have a stronger say in resolving the migrant situation.
“The UN must go beyond our common commitment to revive global solidarity by involving African countries in the search for global solutions to the migration crises and the existential issues facing young people on the African continent,” he said.