Egyptian billionaire offers to buy refugees an island in Europe

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Naguib Sawiris, one of Egypt's richest businessmen, has a temporary solution to the refugee crisis which has killed thousands seeking asylum in Europe this year.

He's suggested he could buy an island from Greece or Italy and open it up to refugees "at least temporarily."


Sawiris is Egypt's third-richest man thanks to his telecommunications empire, according to Forbes. Buying a Mediterranean island could cost him somewhere between $10 million and $100 million.

"Of course it's feasible," he told Agence France-Presse. "You have dozens of islands which are deserted and could accommodate hundreds of thousands of refugees…[as] temporary shelters to house the people, then you start employing the people to build housing, schools, universities, hospitals."

Sawiris said refugees on his island would be treated "like human beings" because, he said, "The way they are being treated now, they are being treated like cattle." Eventually, those taking refuge on Sawiris' island could return home, he said, if the situation in their homeland improves.


He acknowledged that buying an island and declaring it independent of Italy or Greece could be complicated, but maintained that the plan could realistically work.

He has not yet approached the Greek or Italian governments with his proposal, according to AFP.

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