The so-called ‘migrant crisis’ that has gripped Europe has dominated most political discussions in the continent and remains the top agenda on the European Union’s list. The reactions consist of shock, disbelief and a desire for an urgent fix, which is all the more surprising since the crisis has been brewing for years – and what’s more, it is Europe’s own doing in many ways.

As war rages across the Middle East, consisting of a myriad of conflicts set into motion by European powers and their allies, the bastion of peace and wealth is finally feeling the effects. Refugees fleeing from burning villages as war torn cities are flooding to this image of prosperity and are finding that the European nations have a limited store of empathy.

The Euro Zone, which has imperiously berated third world countries for their lack of commitment to human rights is now resorting to quite callous abuse of the principles enshrined by their own legislators. Under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the laws of the EU – which were created in the wake of the devastation caused by Hitler – Europe vowed to never turn away a person seeking political asylum. While the ideal is surely noble, the practice has been anything but. During the Cold War, the conventions were used exclusively to give asylum to political refuges from the opposing sides of the Wall, while refuges from outside Europe were classified as ‘economic migrants’ – those seeking immigration for better economic opportunities as opposed to physical safety – and were denied.

The present crisis takes these policies to the extreme, although exceptions like Germany exist, who have taken a fair share of refugees. The French and the British shuttle refugees to each other like ping pongs across the Channel as dozens die crossing barbed wires and choked entry points. Politicians are keen to wipe their hands of the ‘swarms of humans at our doorstep” – as the mayor of Calais put it. Projects like ‘Mare Nostrum’, which tasks the navy to patrol the Mediterranean for capsized boats and rescue the overboard people have been cancelled in cold blood, in a bid to make the crossing more dangerous and thus dissuade further migrants. It has only driven the death toll higher.

Contrast this with nations like Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon – the third world –, which have opened their arms to refugees despite crippling state poverty and absence of institutions. These nations are neither helped in the process nor commended. European nations have the audacity to chide them when they eventually try to repatriate some of the refugees back, while they blatantly and bluntly look desperate refugees in the eyes and tell them to try their luck elsewhere.