Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has come up with a surprising solution to Europe’s refugee crisis — buying them an island.
Sawiris, who owns an Egyptian television station and mobile phone network, wants to purchase an island from Italy or Greece, both of which are ideally located for Syrians and other refugees to settle on. The self-described “freedom fighter” said there are dozens of deserted islands in Europe that could be used to build infrastructure for refugees without homes.
He said they could accommodate hundreds of thousands of refugees with “temporary shelters to house the people, then you start employing the people to build housing, schools, universities, hospitals.
“And if things improve, whoever wants to go back (to their homeland) goes back.”
Mr Sawiris said the island could cost between $10 million and $100 million, not including the funding needed to build sufficient infrastructure. Although it might initially be difficult to set up customs and regulations, it would be better in the long run for the people involved.
“The way they are being treated now, they are being treated like cattle,” he said.
The plan is to call it Aylan Island, after the three-year-old boy who died off the coast of Turkey. World leaders have been scrambling to provide a compassionate response after pictures of the toddler and his five-year-old brother Galip dead on a beach were seen around the world.
More than 300,000 people have tried to cross the Mediterranean this year with at least 2,500 dying in the process, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced Britain will take “thousands more” and is expected to announce further details of the plan, while Australian RAF pilots are on standby to make air strikes against IS targets this week.
He announced the unconventional idea in a stream of tweets, but his proposal is serious. Interested parties are invited to email their ideas to [email protected]