Sawiris: Refugee island proposal ‘no crazy idea’

Sawiris: Refugee island proposal ‘no crazy idea’

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris said he’s serious about his proposal to develop an island to shelter refugees from Syria’s civil war because he can’t sit idly by “watching this happening.”

Sawiris, the chairman of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding, said he would build houses, schools and other infrastructure on an island, should one be made available to him, to provide tens of thousands of Syrians with a place to call home until they can return to their country.

“I’m serious about the proposal,” Sawiris said in a Bloomberg TV interview.

“If you don’t have an island, and you have a deserted city or a piece of land in your country where you’re willing to host these people, I’ll go in and do all the rest.”

“It’s not a crazy idea,” he said.

Sawiris floated the proposal more than a week ago, and asked the Greek or Italian governments on his Twitter account to sell him an island and declare its independence so he can offer Syrian refugees sanctuary and jobs there.

Sawiris said he hasn’t received replies to his letters to the premiers of Greece and Italy.

If they have other proposals “where I can engage, I’m fine,” he said. “I’m open to solutions.”


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