As the Chinese-backed head of the World Health Organization accused Taiwan of stoking racism on Wednesday, scores of Africans living in the Chinese city of Guangzhou were being evicted from their homes over claims they were importing coronavirus into the city.
“We have no house, no food, no hotel,” an unnamed Nigerian student living in Guangzhou told the BBC on Thursday. “There are up to 100 people still on the streets. People want to go back to our countries.”
“I don’t know what the problem is with China,” the student said. “Everywhere that Africans live they are pushing us away.”
The forced evictions were predicated by online rumors that coronavirus was spreading among Africans living in Guangzhou, which has one of the largest African communities in China, the BBC reported.
VIDEO: While the world has adopted various measures to combat #Coronavirus, Chinese authorities are beginning to eject Africans from their homes and hotels over claims that they were importing the virus into the country.#COVID19 pic.twitter.com/x78SZhhSMO
— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) April 7, 2020
Reacting to the evictions, the All African Association of Guangzhou issued an open letter this week calling on authorities to cease the “inhuman treatment, hatred and outright discrimination of Africans that is currently going on in Guangzhou.”
The evictions in Guangzhou also caught the attention of Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, who tweeted on Wednesday that he would “urgently” engage the Chinese government about the treatment of Nigerian citizens in the country.
Onyeama tweeted Thursday that he had invited the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria to communicate his “extreme concern at allegations of maltreatment of Nigerians in Guangzhou,” and request for immediate Chinese government intervention.
Invited the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Zhou Pingjian to communicate @NigeriaGov‘s extreme concern at allegations of maltreatment of Nigerians in Guangzhou, #China and called for immediate Chinese Govt. intervention. ????????????????#StayHomeSaveLives #COVID19 @DigiCommsNG @NigeriaMFApic.twitter.com/OXhbkXoQWf
— Geoffrey Onyeama (@GeoffreyOnyeama) April 9, 2020
It’s unclear if Onyeama has since met with the Chinese ambassador. The Nigerian embassy in Washington, D.C., did not immediately return a request for comment.
The Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement Thursday saying the country would “provide necessary airlift assistance to stranded Nigerian Nationals abroad who require emergency evacuation.” The statement did not address China or Guangzhou directly.
The evictions of Africans in Guangzhou began one day before WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who won his post in 2017 with China’s backing, said he had been subjected to racist insults and death threats from Taiwan.
“Three months ago, this attack came from Taiwan. We need to be honest. I will be straight today. From Taiwan,” Tedros said Wednesday. “And Taiwan, the Foreign Ministry also, they know the campaign. They didn’t disassociate themselves. They even started criticizing me in the middle of all that insult and slur, but I didn’t care.”
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called Tedros’s comments “baseless” and demanded an immediate apology.
The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs added in a statement Thursday: “Such slander is irresponsible, and the government of Taiwan demands that the Director-General immediately correct his trumped-up claims, issue a clarification, and apologize to the people of Taiwan.”
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