The President of the European Union said there will be an exodus “of biblical proportions” in the next five years that will be “impossible to stop” if Europe does not confront the problem now.
Via: Ida Akerstedt
He told Il Massagero newspaper: “Population growth, climate change, desertification, wars, famine in Somalia and Sudan. These are the factors that are forcing people to leave.
“When people lose hope, they risk crossing the Sahara and the Mediterranean because it is worse to stay at home, where they run enormous risks.
“If we don’t confront this soon, we will find ourselves with millions of people on our doorstep within five years.
If we don’t confront this soon, we will find ourselves with millions of people on our doorstep
“Today we are trying to solve a problem of a few thousand people, but we need to have a strategy for millions of people.”
Mr Tajani claimed the only solution to the crisis is a massive investment in Africa to stop people leaving in the first place.
The number of migrants from north and central African countries such as Egypt, Libya, Sudan and Somalia has gone up 20 per cent since last year, according to the United Nations.
More than 100,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe, and nearly 2,250 have died making the journey.
And 500,000 people are believed to have ventured from Libya to Italy over the past four years.
EU interior ministers have pledged to back an urgent plan to help Italy, which has accepted 85 per cent of arrivals this year.
The European Commission has offered Italy £30million (€35m) in extra funding to help deal with the situation.
But Commission deputy head Frans Timmermans has said Europe need “solidarity from all member states including the United Kingdom” to tackle the increasing flow of migrants.
He said: “I will tell you this migration issue will not go away – not today, not tomorrow, not next year, not for a decade, not for two decades.
“This is a global phenomenon that will be with us for generations.”
Mr Timmermans added: “We know that many of the people arriving in Italy, when scrutinised, do not have the right to international protection because they don’t flee from war or persecution.
“They seek a better life, which is a noble pursuit, but it does not grant them the right to stay in the European Union.”
More than 5,000 Syrian migrants were settled in the UK by the end of last year.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has also called on European countries to take in refugees from Italy and Greece.