There were ways to save the hundreds of people — perhaps 700, maybe even 950 — who drowned off the Libyan coast Sunday while attempting to escape to Europe. And there are ways to save those who inevitably follow them onto the high seas. But the first step is for countries to stop passing the buck. The responsibility falls not just to European nations, but to the United States, too.

Human traffickers have preferred the sea route to Italy from Libya since the 1990s. Other paths have been discovered and cut off, but this one has remained, according to a 2014 paper by Philippe Fargues and Sara Bonfanti of the European University Institute's Migration Policy Center:

In 2014, however, the number of arrivals in Europe, mostly Italy, by that route rose sharply. The jump, Fargues and Bonfanti say, "must be attributed to a conjunction of factors: certainly the massive rescue operation launched by Italy starting from October 2013, but also the mounting waves of displaced people in the Middle East and the breakdown of the last barrier between Africa and Europe with the collapse of the state in Libya."