It’s been estimated that there are 6.8 million Syrian refugees with nowhere to go. Of course people want to help, but who can handle taking in all those in need?
One Egyptian billionaire, Naguib Sawiris, decided that he needed to put his considerable wealth to work for the greater good by purchasing two privately owned Greek Islands. There are about 1200 Greek islands, and less than 300 of them are actually inhabited. Being that Greece is in a bit of a pickle themselves, with many islands currently for sale, this could be a brilliant solution to several challenges. But first, he needs permission from the prime minister of Greece (or Italy or wherever he ends up buying) to house and host the refugees.
Sawiris was was interviewed by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, and told Zakaria that he was inspired to take action when he saw refugees being mistreated, “beaten and put into the trains and buses, I mean it was just too much.” Sawiris said it was the image of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless body that washed up on the shore of a Turkish beach that “woke him up.”
I cannot just sit and just do nothing and pretend it’s not my problem.
International Business Times of the UK reports “Galip Kurdi, aged five, and his three-year-old brother Aylan died along with their mother, Rehan, and 10 other refugees, who drowned when their boat capsized as they were trying to reach the Greek island of Kos.” The island of Kos is only 4 miles from Bodrum by boat.
Sawiris estimates that it will take about $100million to get the project started. Once he obtains the island for the refugees he plan to put them to work building their own homes and infrastructure so they wouldn’t have to be concerned with whether or not they would have to return to what was once their home.
The UK Telegraph reports that more than 2300 Syrian refugees have died at sea trying to reach Europe. Sawiris believes that he can employ and house and train and hire 100-200,000 refugees on the islands he has in mind. And he has a plan:
I would build a small temporary marina. I would build – I would build temporary housing and temporary school and temporary hospital, you know. And then we will use these people and provide them jobs to build a new city on the island, to build this island, you know. Because this war is not going to end in weeks or in months. It may be years even. So what do we do with these people meanwhile, you know? I mean, I was just – I’m here in Belgrade and I’m – I met the minister of interior today and he was telling me that his biggest fear is that the winter is coming, it’s going to be snowing and how will they sustain this weather and everything? I mean, we need to move fast.
While this is a tragedy of epic proportions it’s comforting to know that there are people like Mr. Sawiri who are willing and able to make such a positive difference in these people’s lives.
WATCH the CNN interview here:Featured image is a screen capture from the video above.