Bill Gates warns that Germany's open door policy to migrants will overwhelm Europe and urges leaders to 'make it more difficult for Africans to reach the continent via current routes'

By CHRIS PLEASANCE FOR MAILONLINE


Bill Gates has warned that European leaders risk deepening the migrant crisis by being too generous to those arriving on the continent.


The Microsoft founder said countries such as Germany will not be able to handle the 'huge' numbers of migrants waiting to leave Africa and find a better life overseas.


Instead, the 61-year-old suggested spending more on foreign aid to treat the root causes of migration, while making it more difficult for people to reach the continent.


Speaking in an interview with the German Welt am Sonntag newspaper, with a translation published by Breitbart, he said: 'On the one hand you want to demonstrate generosity and take in refugees.


'But the more generous you are, the more word gets around about this — which in turn motivates more people to leave Africa.


'Germany cannot possibly take in the huge number of people who are wanting to make their way to Europe.' 


Mr Gates praised Chancellor Merkel's commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on foreign aid as 'phenomenal', and asked other European leaders to follow suit.


But he added: 'Europe must make it more difficult for Africans to reach the continent via the current transit routes.'


His own foundation has spent years and invested hundreds of millions of dollars to fight poverty and disease in Africa. 


Mail Online contacted the foundation for comment, but had not received a response at the time of publication. 


Mrs Merkel has been heavily criticised for her previous policy of open-door migration which saw 1million people arrive in Germany in a single year.


At the time conservative European politicians warned that providing migrants with an open door into Europe would make the problem worse. 


Mr Gates' comments came as Italian interior minister Marco Minniti held emergency talks with his French and German counterparts over the migrant crisis.


Mr Minniti has threatened to close Italian ports to privately-funded vessels helping to rescue migrants from ships in the Mediterranean

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He said that other European nations must agree to shoulder some of the burden, or Italy will cut funding to those refusing to help.


An estimated 82,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, up 19 per cent on previous year, The Telegraph reports. 


A German government report which leaked to the Bild newspaper suggests there could be up to 6.6million people trying to get into Europe, including 2.5million waiting to cross from North Africa.


It is thought that 2,000 people have lost their lives making the crossing since the start of the year.


Mr Gates' comments also came after the G20 Africa Conference which took place in Berlin last month.


The summit aimed to discuss ways to improve economic growth, develop infrastructure, and strengthen private investment across the continent.


Austrian troops lock down border


Austria is sending 750 soldiers to its border with Italy in order to head off and expected influx of migrants.


The troops will join four armoured personnel carriers already stationed at the Alpine Brenner Pass to impose checks on those trying to cross.


The move comes after 82,000 migrants landed on Italian shores in the first six months of this year, and the country's government demanded that other EU nations share the burden.


'I expect border controls will be introduced very soon,' Defence Minister Peter Doskozil said on Tuesday.


Both Italy and Austria are members of the European Union's Schengen open-border zone, but free movement has been jeopardised by the reimposition of controls at many crossings across the bloc since the surge in migrants seen in 2015 and 2016.


There was no immediate comment from Italy or EU officials, but Doskozil's spokesman said there was no concrete timetable for the new controls.


The spokesman added: 'We'll see how the situation in Italy is becoming more acute and we have to be prepared to avoid a situation comparable to summer 2015.'


Armoured vehicles were used by Austrian authorities during the migrant influx of 2015 to block roads and stem the flow, and would be used in a similar way this time around, authorities said.


Meanwhile the 750 troops would be able to descend on the region within 72 hours should the need arise.