The UN Refugee Agency and Italian authorities have confirmed that at least 700 migrants have died in three separate shipwrecks in the Mediterranean since last Wednesday. The extremely disturbing incidents ware captured in photographs and described by rescuers as harrowing, with bodies of men, women and children floating up to the rescue boats. The increasing attempts by migrants to make the dangerous journey between Libya and Italy is due to the dire situation at Lesbos, Greece, which is now overwhelmed due to the arrival of thousands of migrants this year.

Italy has been playing an important role of patrolling the waters and sending out rescuing teams that have saved 14,000 people making the crossing during the past week. The tragedies this week bring the death toll in the Mediterranean this year to more than 2,000 people. But other countries of the EU, and the United Kingdom especially, have been less than forthcoming. The withdrawal of the UK from the EU, often shortened to Brexit, is gaining momentum at the moment and electoral groups are going to pass a referendum in June to vote on the final decision. Brexit is now a reality because the British people and government are scared of the migrants having access to the UK when they are granted asylum in the EU.

Narrow national government interests have displaced sound policy responses to the refugee crisis, delaying protection and shelter, although a handful of governments, including Germany and Sweden, did respond generously. This situation is untenable. Though the people in Europe are not responsible for the Syrian crisis, they are not clean from the blame of the deaths that happen near their shoes and on their lands.

The EU should continue supporting search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean to prevent further innocent deaths and expand safe and legal channels into the EU. They are the only international group of countries that has the resources to help these people. Callousness at this point will make the matter worse, and history will not remember their nations kindly.