All in Human Rights

Responsible commentary on the smuggling of migrants into Europe must begin with an answer to the question of a five-year-old Syrian refugee: "Daddy, why don't we just take the airplane?"

The painful truth is that European Union policy intentionally prevents refugees from accessing safe and legal means of transportation, leaving them no choice but to risk their lives on dangerous and illegal smuggling voyages. Despite frigid winter weather, thousands continue to make the trip, which has resulted in nearly 400 deaths so far this year. While the E.U. has dutifully decried the "crisis," its most recent actions will only make things worse for refugees.

Just last week, the E.U. struck a hasty agreement with NATO to deploy warships to intimidate migrants seeking refuge on European soil. With this unprecedented level of militarization, Europe (and the rest of NATO) is treating these refugees like foreign invaders.

Perversely, the E.U. has disguised this effort to exclude refugees as an attempt to protect these desperate migrants from exploitative smugglers and human traffickers. But the reality is that the E.U.'s exclusionary migration policy is precisely why these refugees are turning to smugglers in the first place.