Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe says interference in the domestic affairs of independent nations has triggered the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, Mugabe said that the "harrowing scenes of desperate refugees" seeking shelter from instability and war have been caused by "destabilizing policies of external forces."

"This tragic situation could have been avoided through the respect of independence of other countries and non-interference in their internal affairs," Mugabe said.

The president also denounced what he sees as "illegal" sanctions imposed on his country by the U.S. and the European Union, calling for their immediate and unconditional removal.

"We have peace in Zimbabwe just now. We don't want war. We don't want interference. We don't want to hear of regime change at all," he stressed.