Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May said on Thursday (12 November) that the European refugee crisis must be tackled by making it possible to return refugees to Africa from Europe. May also said there is a need to deal with the criminal gangs that help them make their journeys.

Leaders of the European Union met African counterparts in Malta on Wednesday (11 November), hoping pledges of cash and other aid can slow the flow of refugees crossing the Mediterranean from the world's poorest continent.

"We need to break the link between people making the journey across to Europe and reaching Europe and being able to settle there. In order to do that of course we need to be able to return people to countries in Africa - that'll be part of the discussion today. But also we need smash the criminal gangs that are making money out of human misery," May said.

Asked if African and EU leaders had been 'on the same page' at the summit, she said: "Yes we have had very constructive discussions here between the African countries and the European Union. But what we are doing in Europe, what the UK is doing, obviously as well as ensuring we break that link, we smash the gangs, we want to work with African countries, which are the countries of origin for people, to ensure that people don't feel the need to make this journey to Europe. So in the UK for example we are putting £200m extra aid into Africa to help to ensure we provide the circumstances there that ensure that people don't make this journey."

The summit among the 16th-century fortifications at Valletta was conceived six months ago, after the sinking of a boat from Libya with the loss of over 800 lives forced EU governments to acknowledge refugees' desperation and step up naval rescue missions.