Ben Bano, founder of Seeking Sanctuary, a Christian group helping migrants in Calais the and in the UK, was speaking after European and African leaders began talks in Malta to seek long-term solutions to the humanitarian crisis.
These are some of the first discussions to involve African voices, and Ben Bano hopes that the meetings will "help the European leaders to at least have an understanding of some of the problems that are faced back in countires like Eriteriea, Sudan and Ethopia."
He said: "The solution has to be found back at source, and the more that we can involve the African leaders and people like the African Union in trying to at least achieve some safe havens for refugees, the less pressure there will be on Europe and indeed the less suffering there will be."
But Mr Bano also spoke of the hope the refugees bring with them: "In spite of the squalor and in spite of all the desperate situations there are really signs of hope, and it is so encouraging that many faith communities and Christian groups have put their support in."
Thousands of refugees are continuing to cross the Mediterranean to reach western Europe and on Wednesday more refugee deaths were reported.
Fourteen people died after their wooden boat sank on its way to the Greek island of Lesbos and a further 27 were rescued by Turkish authorities.
Listen to Premier's Hannah Tooley speak to Ban Bano here: