THE head of the Central African Republic on Thursday accused the West of triggering the migration crisis on his continent by pillaging its natural resources through slavery and colonization.
Taking the podium at the United Nations General Assembly, Faustin Archange Touadera addressed the migrant crisis on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where thousands of African migrants arrived last week, overwhelming the local community and causing a major headache 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 statement contrasted sharply with comments Wednesday by Italy’s right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who blamed the crisis on migrant smugglers and charged that Africa was in fact a rich continent.
Lampedusa, Italy’s southernmost island, located less than 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the Tunisian coast, has long been a landing point for migrant boats from North Africa.
But it was inundated last week, when some 8,500 people — more than the entire local population — arrived in 199 boats over the course of three days, according to the UN migration agency.
EU officials scrambled to respond and the president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, was scheduled to visit the island on Sunday.