'Millions of Africans will flood into EU'.

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, warns a senior European official.

The prediction from Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, came as Paris evacuated almost 3000 migrants from a makeshift camp near the city centre - the 34th such evacuation in two years.

Tajani told Il Messagero newspaper there would be an exodus "of biblical proportions that will 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," he said.

"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.

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.

Last month Italy threatened to close its ports to boats carrying rescued migrants, and called on some of the vessels to be sent to France and Spain - a proposal these countries dismissed.

President Emmanuel Macron's Government is expected to announce new measures to cope with the migrant crisis next week.

Most migrants landing in Italy are sub-Saharan Africans who have crossed the Mediterranean from Libya, a journey that has claimed more than 2200 lives this year, according to UN figures.

Their influx has exacerbated tensions with Austria, which this week deployed armoured vehicles close to its border with Italy and threatened to send up to 750 soldiers to block migrants.