Telecoms billionaire will pay to put all refugees on an island (Wired UK)

Khaled Desouki / Getty

A telecoms tycoon wants to solve Europe’s refugee crisis — by buying an island.

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris tweeted a “crazy idea” to buy a Greek or Italian island that could be developed and inhabited by currently homeless refugees fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and other countries.

“You have dozens of islands which are deserted and could accommodate hundreds of thousands of refugees,” Sawiris told AFP. “The way they are being treated now, they are being treated like cattle.”

With a fortune of £1.85bn, Sawiris is Egypt’s third richest man and chief executive of telecoms company Orascom TMT. The island investment would cost anything from £6m to £60m for the island, after which Sawiris said he would focus on investing in infrastructure.

He would build “temporary shelters to house the people, then you start employing the people to build housing, schools, universities, hospitals.”

Sawiris acknowledged it might be hard to persuade Greece or Italy to sell an island. It would also likely be difficult to arrange jurisdiction and customs regulations.

In a second tweet he wrote his solution didn’t have to be permanent, but added it would at least provide migrants with a place to stay until they can return home.

“No sane person with integrity would look at the news and decide not to take action,” Sawiris told CBC.

Sawiris is not the first to suggest an island for refugees —  Jason Buzi, a US property tycoon, had the same idea back in July.

Over 300,000 refugees have attempted the dangerous Mediterranean crossing this year and some 2,500 are expected to have died so far.

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4 September 2015 | 4:15 pm – Source:


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