US President Donald Trump has criticised the World Health Organization (WHO) for not responding strongly to reports of racism and discrimination against Africans living in the Chinese city of Guangzhou in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Mr Trump has called the WHO health body a “puppet of China” and had threatened to permanently freeze US funding. He has also has repeatedly accused China of failings in its response to the pandemic.
In his letter to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, President Trump accused the body of not commenting on “China’s racially discriminatory actions” despite complaints of “forced quarantines, evictions and refusal of services” by African nationals.
He was referring to widespread testing of foreign nationals in Guangzhou in mid-April that was marred by claims of Africans being targeted on the basis of their race.
Video clips of Africans sleeping on the streets after allegedly being evicted from houses and hotels emerged, with those interviewed saying they were being forced into quarantine.
The Guangzhou authorities at the time denied claims of racial profiling, but President Trump has said the WHO should have condemned the “racially discriminatory actions”.
Sometime around April, images began circulating online of rows of Africans sleeping on the streets of Guangzhou, beside their luggage, having either been evicted from their apartments or been turned away from hotels due to COVID-19 fears. Other videos showed police harassing Africans on the street.
Those evicted say they were being discriminated against.
“They are accusing us of having the virus,” said Tobenna Victor, a Nigerian student in Guangzhou.
“We paid rent to them and after collecting rent they chased us out of the house. Since last night we have been sleeping outside.”
Some residents revealed that they have been evicted from their apartments, others say that they have been put into forced quarantine without knowing the results of their tests.