As world leaders are struggling to find a suitable solution to the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe, an Egyptian billionaire has come forward with a brilliant plan to help the destitute refugees on his own.
Naguib Sawiris, a telecom tycoon who is believed to be worth $2.9 billion, has proposed to buy a Mediterranean island and develop it into an independent country to help hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Syria and other conflict-ridden areas.
He announced the initiative on his Twitter account:
Greece or Italy sell me an island,ill call its independence and host the migrants and provide jobs for them building their new country— Naguib Sawiris (@NaguibSawiris) September 1, 2015
Acknowledging his idea could be a little far-fetched, Sawiris added there’s no harm in giving it a try:
Crazy idea .. Maybe but at least temporary until they can return to their countries ??!!— Naguib Sawiris (@NaguibSawiris) September 1, 2015
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Sawiris told AFP there are dozens of deserted islands that could easily be utilized as a safe haven for refugees. He estimated that an island off Greece or Italy could cost between $10 million and $100 million.
Speaking to CBC in a separate interview, he said, “No sane person with integrity would look at the news and decide not to take action.”
As an example for his proposal, Sawiris cited El Gouna, a resort town that his family developed on the Red Sea in Egypt, as an example of a “desert land that he turned habitable.”
More than 2,600 migrants are known to have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe in 2015, many of them Syrians who fled their country’s four-and-a-half year conflict.
And then there are rich oil Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait that have done next to nothing for the helpless people – despite being regionally closer to Syria and Iraq. These nations could surely learn a thing or two from Sawiris who, as an individual, is at least thinking of possible solutions within available resources.