Egyptian billionaire intends to buy island for refugees

Naguib Sawiris, world’s 609th richest offers to buy island to salve growing refugee crisis in Mediterranean

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, chairman of Orascom TMT Holding, speaks during the Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) in Sharm el-Sheikh, in the South Sinai governorate, south of Cairo, March 14, 2015.

Egyptian tycoon, Naguib Sawiris on his Twitter account, called Greece and Italy to sell him an island in order to shelter refugees who have been forced to move from their countries with a great despair in their luggage.

"Greece or Italy sell me an island, I'll call its independence and host the migrants and provide jobs for them building their new country," he wrote.

According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR)’s report this year, more than 2,500 people have lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea so far as trying to escape from the violent conflicts with their loved ones.   

A day after his comment on the issue, Sawiris said in a televised interview that he would give the details about his plan directly to the governments of Italy and Greece when they express interest in the offer.  

Giving the scheme of his plan Sawiris continued his words referring the governments, there would be "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," added Sawiris.  

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris in 2013 was listed as the third wealthiest man in Egypt with a fortune of $2.8 billion as he was the 609th richest person in the world.

Swaris is the owner of Orascom TMT which runs a mobile phone network in the Middle East, Africa as well as Korea. He also has his own TV channel in Egypt.

Sawiris defended his plan claiming that it offers a life to refugees without being humiliated.  

“This is a solution for them to be treated without humiliation because the way it is now they’re being treated and used like cattle.”

Sawiris also answered the questions about whether the idea is practicable, saying that "Of course it's feasible."

According to him, buying an island could cost between $10 million and $100 million, however the main challenge is “investment in infrastructure."

His solution came as the ungovernable refugee crisis in Mediterranean swallows children mostly.

On Wednesday , a shocking image touched the hearts of humanity, drawing attention to normalised refugee killings in the Mediterranean Sea. The image subjected the lifeless body of 3 years old Aylan Kurdi who was swallowed by the wives of Mediterranean as he was trying to cross the Greek island of Kos with his family.

The body of dark-haired Syrian toddler, wearing a bright-red T-shirt and shorts, washed ashore of Bodrum in Turkey earlier Wednesday, lying face down in the surf as the way toddlers like to sleep.

A Turkish police officer carries a toddler who drowned in a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos.

The image immediately circulated on social media, sparking a great anger against the way of his death as the media outlets were discussing the subject following the consecutive statements from world leaders and organisations.

In the Wednesday’s incident, the toddler's brother, Galip, and their mother, Rehen, also lost their lives, according to Fin Donnelly, a member of the Canadian Parliament.


TRTWorld and agencies