Egyptian billionaire wants to buy a Mediterranean island for Syrian refugees! Are the Ambanis and the Tatas doing their bit?

Posted on by Aditya Wilson

His name is Naguib Sawiris and his heart is bleeding for the hundreds of thousands of dying Syrian refugees. The troubled Egyptian billionaire has offered to buy an island off Italy or Greece and wants to develop it to accommodate thousands of Syrians.

Thousands of Syrians cross from Syria into Northern Iraq near the Peshkhabour border point in Dahuk, Northern Iraq, August 21, 2013. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates that over 30,000 Syrians have crossed into Northern Iraq since the border was reopened last week, and roughly three to four thousand continue to cross daily. The mostly ethnically Kurdish refugees are fleeing increasing insecurity, economic strife, and a shortage of electricity, water, and food in their areas. Credit Lynsey Addario for The New York Times NYTCREDIT: Lynsey Addario for The New York Times NYTCREDIT: Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

The telecommunications magnate has appealed to the Italian and Greek Government: “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.”

Billionaires many times over, the Indian powerhouses, like the Ambanis and the Tatas, have an obligation to contribute, too. After all, you can keep what you have only by giving it away.


Around 2,500 Syrians have already lost their lives to hunger and the extreme elements. Women, children and the aged have been seen floating dead in the sea, turning, perhaps, into food for the fish.

There are countless uninhabited islands in Greece and Italy, lying deserted and capable of accommodating hundreds of thousands of refugees. An island off Greece or Italy could cost anywhere between $10 and $100 million, but meaty investments will be needed in infrastructure.


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

“And if things improve, whoever wants to go back to their homeland, goes back,” said Sawiris, whose family developed the popular El Gouna resort on Egypt’s Red Sea coast.


However, such out of the box thinking comes with its own sets of challenges and roadblocks. Greece and Italy might not want to sell. Jurisdiction and customs could become a huge problem.

But at least, the Syrian refugees will be treated as human beings, not as cattle herds!



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