Tactical Talk (Update) Europe is “underestimating” the scale and severity of the migration crisis and “millions of Africans” will flood the continent in the next five years unless urgent action is taken, a senior European official has warned.
The dire prediction from Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, came as Paris evacuated almost 3,000 migrants sleeping rough from a makeshift camp near the city centre – the 34th such evacuation in two years.
In an interview with Il Messagero newspaper, Mr Tajani said there would be an exodus “of biblical proportions that would be impossible to stop if we don’t confront the problem now”.
“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.
“Today we are trying to solve a problem of a few thousand people, but we need to have a strategy for millions of people.”
The only solution is massive investment in Africa to dissuade people from leaving in the first place, he said.
Mr Tajani’s sombre forecast came a day after EU interior ministers pledged to back an urgent European Commission plan to help Italy, which has accepted around 85,000 of the 100,000 migrants who have arrived by sea from North Africa this year.