Being painted with a dismal picture all around the globe, and by most of the European states, in particular, refugees have almost lost their hopes in search of a better future. With each passing day, Europe is becoming strange for the word ‘refugee’. Recently, a ship with 629 African migrants on board marooned in between Malta and Italy. Blaming each other for the responsibility of those migrants, Malta, Italy and France scolded each other over their negligence in handling the issue. French President Emanuel Macron accused the Italian government of ‘cynicism and irresponsibility’ for not letting the ship dock in Italy, which apparently was the nearest dockyard. Whereas, Italy’s foreign minister responded to France by saying, “Saving lives is a duty, turning Italy into a huge refugee camp is not”. Spain, which is far away from the area of the incident, meanwhile, decided to receive the refugees while describing their action a ‘highly symbolic’ one. The migration issue in Europe is being dealt with as ostrich politics — an expression referring to the tendency of ignoring obvious dangers or problems and pretending they don’t exist. In several countries, it is being used as a tool to maintain or to come into power. Poland and Hungary are two of these examples. For instance, in the case of Hungary, Viktor Orban’s current government used anti-refugee rhetoric as his election campaign slogan and was able to secure a two-third majority in the Parliament easily. Following the footsteps of their neighbours, Poland’s far-right government also adopted a zero tolerance policy for refugees in 2017 and termed the acceptance of refugees an invasion of Europe. It doesn’t matter why EU countries discriminate against refugees, they must realise that their actions will get them nowhere. The people they fear are the very ones who once welcomed them when they were lost during the Second World War On November 11, 2017, with as many as 60,000 people took to the streets — most of them belonging to far-right groups — with anti-Islamic banners in hands, protesting the entry of refugees. Anti-Muslim feelings in the country were vividly visible on the Polish Independence Day march. Days after, vandalisation of a Muslim cultural centre in Warsaw, the largest prayer room in Poland, was also witnessed. It doesn’t matter what their reasons are, countries must realise that ignoring refugees and vandalising cultural centres, will get them nowhere. The people they fear are the very ones who once welcomed them when they were lost during the Second World War. Even Pakistan held out a helping hand during those times. Around the time of partition, some estimates suggest that around 30,000 Polish refugees entered Karachi during the Second World War and settled there. They were not asked to return once Pakistan came into being. Instead, some of them were even offered Pakistani nationalities. One of the biggest ever camps was set up near University Road at Country Club, Karachi, while a second one was set at Malir. Moreover, there are still 58 graves of Polish nationals, who died during that period, at Karachi’s Christians Cemetery. Similarly, Iran, in 1942, hosted about 120,000 refugees from Poland. Despite being gravely affected by political instability and famine, Iran welcomed the refugees without any concerns. On the other hand, the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 after the Hungarian Revolution left 180,000 refugees who made their way to Austria and Yugoslavia, who were later adjusted to 37 different countries. This historical comparison doesn’t necessarily mean that European countries must accept today’s refugees following the principle of reciprocity. But it does justify that they must not be at least left isolated in the time of need. The EU and its member states have a role to play. Relocation schemes put forward by the European Commission need to be implemented in their true sense. The mechanism should be revived in order to share the load fairly among European countries. At the same time, Brussels should also devise a proper mechanism to register all refugees and formulate plans on how to send them back once the situation has become normal in their home countries. In a nutshell, respecting the ‘1951 Refugee Convention’, ratified by 145 states, which defines the rights of the refugees as well as the legal obligation of the states to protect them, must not be sidelined. Instead, the EU needs to pay heed towards it and resolve the refugee crisis before the complications intensify. The writer is a freelance writer and a Stipendium Hungaricum Scholar studying International Relations at the University of Pécs. He tweets at @NAliBaloch Published in Daily Times, June 19th 2018.