The refugee crisis in Europe has left thousands dead and many displaced as more nations are closing off their borders, leaving refugees with nowhere to run. Billionaire Egyptian TV tycoon Naguib Sawiris proposed to buy an island and start a new country where refugees can live after saying, "The way they [refugees] are being treated now, they are being treated like cattle” and now he’s one step closer to making that a reality.
A statement from his communication office today said Sawiris is looking into two Greek private islands that he considers “a good opportunity for the project,” called “Aylan Island” in memory of Aylan Kurdi, the drowned three-year-old Syrian boy discovered dead on a Turkish beach, just one of his family members who drowned after the boat they were on capsized en route to the Greek Island of Kos.
Sawiris, who said the islands would “fall under Greece’s jurisdiction,” said he has reached out to Italy’s prime minister and Greece’s prime minister, asking for permission to take the refugees there and asking to buy islands if they had some for sale. But the deal will hinge on Athens’ approval to take in the maximum number of refugees under Greek law.
So far Sawiris has received an offer from United Nations refugee agency UNHCR to help on the project, which will need at least a $100 million investment. Sawiris himself is willing to spend a maximum of $200 million to buy the island. He has also received offers from people who want to donate to the project and who wish to volunteer.