The German government expects at least 400,000 African migrants to try and make the voyage to Europe in 2017, according to Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller.
Minister Müller said he is deeply concerned over the rise in migrants crossing from North Africa to Europe so far this year. In the first three months of 2017, the number of migrants has doubled from this period in 2016. Müller warned: “If we calculate this, 300,000 to 400,000 people could arrive in Italy this year,” Die Welt reports.
Last year a record 180,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean, and many thousands drowned on the way. According to Müller, Europe needs to adopt a radically different approach to African migration. Along with Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, he reaffirmed a joint security agreement with countries in Africa this week.
Defence Minister von der Leyen said: “Without security, there is no development and no development without security and no peace.” Both ministers urged the European Union (EU) to work closer with African nations politically, militarily, and economically.
In January, Müller proposed the bloc should adopt a policy similar to the Marshall Plan which helped rebuild the German economy after the Second World War. He emphasised policies that would cut aid or put sanctions on countries for not taking migrants back, like the proposal backed by German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, could increase the number of people making the trip to Europe.
Last year, Müller warned the migrant crisis had barely begun saying he thought there could be a further eight to 10 million people who would try and come to Europe from the Middle East.
One politician who agrees that the migrant crisis is likely only beginning is President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, In a recent interview, Tajani said he thought there could be as many as 30 million more migrants from Africa coming to Europe in the next several years.
Tajani, like Müller, said he thought the EU should be more active in Africa and said EU member states should invest billions into struggling African economies.
The Geneva-based International Labour Organization (ILO) put out a report earlier this year saying the economies of African nations simply couldn’t keep up with their high birth rates which would inevitably lead to many migrating to Europe to find work.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at email@example.com