The deaths of so many migrants in the Mediterranean is a scar on the conscience of Europe showing the moral vacuity of EU governments' belief that we can inoculate ourselves from our moral and legal duty to those in need. Since 2011, our government sought to convince the British people that it can fulfil its responsibilities to Syrian civilians merely by generous aid to refugee camps. Recent events show how short-sighted this has been for regional stability and how tragic for the civilians involved. Similarly, the EU has seen fit to cut its capabilities for maritime rescue just as the need increases, leaving the Italians virtually alone to deal with a collective responsibility.
All EU governments, especially maritime nations such as ours, should offer all possible assistance to our Italian friends. If the EU is to mean anything in this dangerous world, it must show itself capable of much more than standing by as thousands of innocents drown at its maritime border. Our enemies are watching and drawing their own conclusions. They must conclude that not only are we unwilling to fight for our beliefs and to uphold human rights, but we are also willing to let innocents drown for their belief that we are compassionate nations.