The continent's youth has been impoverished by the consequences of slavery and colonialism, says the president of the Central African Republic
The president of the Central African Republic (CAR), Faustin Archange Touadera, has accused the West of sparking a migration crisis by exploiting Africa's natural resources and causing economic hardship through slavery and colonialism.
Referring to the recent arrival of thousands of African migrants on the Italian island of Lampedusa, Touadera told the UN General Assembly on Thursday that "these young people who represent the present and the future of our continent, Africa, are desperately seeking to join the countries of the European continent, in search of an El Dorado."
Lampedusa, which is less than 150 km (90 miles) from the Tunisian coast and roughly half-way between Libya and Sicily, has been overwhelmed by migrants and remains a popular destination for arrivals from North Africa. A facility built to house a maximum of 450 people on the island now reportedly shelters over 2,000.
Last week, the authorities on Lampedusa declared a state of emergency after the UN migration agency reported that over 8,000 migrants had arrived in 199 boats over the course of three days. Local mayor Filippo Mannino was quoted as saying that the crisis had reached a "point of no return."
According to the Italian Interior Ministry, 125,928 migrants and refugees had arrived in Italy as of September 14, twice the number for the same period last year.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni blamed the crisis on migrant smugglers, while a senior Polish diplomat, Arkadiusz Mularczyk, claimed earlier this week that the surge in numbers could be part of a Russian hybrid operation designed to erode European Union support for Ukraine.
However, CAR leader Touadera suggested otherwise in his comments at the UN.
"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," the leader said.
Last week, Germany announced the suspension of an agreement with Italy to voluntarily take in refugees, citing Rome's failure to fulfill its commitments under the EU's Dublin Regulation. Under a voluntary EU solidarity initiative, Germany had promised to assist by accommodating 3,500 migrants from member states facing substantial pressures.