President Donald Trump has vowed to bring an end to “vicious and violent” conflicts in Africa.
At a press briefing on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, Trump said his administration was committed to ensuring peace in the world, and especially in Africa.
“Africa right now has got problems that few people will even understand,” Trump told a room full of journalists following a question about US efforts in North Africa.
“If you saw some of the things that I see through intelligence what is going on in Africa, it is so sad, it is so vicious and violent, and we want peace, we want peace for Africa,” Trump added.
US troops are involved in counter-terrorism operations and intelligence gathering in western Africa where several terrorist groups have waged war for decades.
In this region alone, three countries are battling militant groups that waging wars across their borders.
Last year, Trump’s administration approved the sale of 12 military planes and security equipment worth $600 million to Nigeria, battling Boko Haram insurgency.
Trump said the US was reinforcing its military because “through strength you get peace.”
“We are going to have a military like we’ve never had before. We’ve given out orders for you know, the best fighter jets in the world, the best ships, the best everything but hopefully, we’ll never have to use them,” he said.
However, his message of peace missed the mark and drew criticism from social media commentators who believe his remarks reinforce preconceived Western notions about the continent.
“Sure. You and I know that anything Trump says about Africa will reveal his ignorance & racism. But it will also reinforce the myths and stereotypes about the continent that many Americans have in their heads.
“And the way we think about place shapes the way we treat it & its people,” said Twitter user John Edwin Mason.
Others said the president’s remarks lacked any geographical knowledge of the continent.
It is not the first time the US President has landed in hot water over his comments on Africa.
Trump faced immense backlash after he was reported to have said immigrants coming to the United States were from “shithole” countries in Africa and Haiti, a reference he has since denied, saying he was not a racist.
Trump made moves to improve US ties with African governments earlier in the year after he sent former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on a visit across the continent.
Tillerson was, however, summoned back early from the trip and fired.