04/09/2015 05:04 BST | Updated 07/09/2015 06:59 BST

Egyptian Billionaire Naguib Sawiris Offers To Buy Mediterranean Island For Refugees

UPDATE: Egyptian Billionaire 'To Name Refugee Island After Drowned Syrian Boy' #aylanISLAND

An Egyptian Telecoms billionaire has proposed buying a Mediterranean island to shelter refugees fleeing from Syria and other countries.

Naguib Sawiris, who is believed to be worth $2.9billion, announced his idea on Twitter this week.

He tweeted: “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 added: “Crazy idea… Maybe but at least temporary until they can return to their countries??!!”

Speaking to AFP later, he said: “Of course it’s feasible. You have dozens of islands which are deserted and could accommodate hundreds of thousands of refugees.”

He estimated an island off Greece of Italy could cost between $10-$100million but stressed “the main thing is investment in infrastructure.”

Egyptian Telecoms billionaire Naguib Sawiris is believed to be worth $2.9billion

Sawiris admitted the plan has its challenges – including whether Greece or Italy could be persuaded to sell an island, as well as arranging jurisdiction and customs regulations.

But he insisted refugees who came to it would be treated as “human beings”, complaining: “The way they are being treated now, they are being treated like cattle.”

Speaking to CBC on Wednesday he said: “No sane person with integrity would look at the news and decide not to take action.”

A Turkish gendarmerie soldier moves the body of Syrian-Kurdish refugee Aylan Kurdi from a Bodrum beach on Wednesday after the boat he was traveling on capsized

According to Al Ahram news channel, Sawiris cited the 32,000 strong El Gouna, a resort town he developed on the Red Sea in Egypt, as an example of a “desert land that he turned habitable.”

Sawiris’ comments come after a week of harrowing events, which have forced the world to acknowledge the scale of the refugee crisis taking place in Europe.


His proposal echoes that of US property tycoon Jason Buzi, who in July announced his solution of a "Refugee Nation" - a brand new country "which any refugee, from anywhere in the world, can call home."

But Buzi's plans were slammed by a former senior advisor to the Australian government, who said the idea is similar to treating refugees like “lepers”.

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