The world is currently facing the biggest refugee crisis since WWII. Over 800,000 asylum seekers are expected to go to Germany this year alone, and the number of refugees who have migrated across the Mediterranean has already exceeded the amount of refugees who did the same in all of 2014.
In the wake of the refugee crisis, as well as the rise of right-wing extremists that threaten the safety of refugees, The Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has offered to purchase islands from Greece or Italy for the refugees.
Mr. Sawiris claims that the many small and unused islands owned by the two countries would make a perfect home for 100,000 and 200,000 refugees. Naguib Sawiris plans on calling this new island nation Hope.
In an interview with CNN Mr. Sawiris revealed some of the specifics of his plan, stating that he will “make a temporary shelter for these people”, along with “a small port or marina for the boats to land”. Sawiris added that he would “employ the people to build their own homes, their schools, a hospital, a university, a hotel,”.
Sawiris stated that “Sometimes (I) think the politicians don’t have a heart”, and that all he needs is the islands. After which, he said that he would “take care of all the logistics”. As of yet, no Greek or Italian officials were available for comment on the proposal.
Some major problems emerge from this proposal though. For one, questions emerge regarding Sawiris’ capability to sustain jobs for the refugees for a long period of time. Another big problem is the availability of food and how it will be imported/distributed across the islands.
However, one of the biggest concerns is the question of whether this island nation is simply a jail for what would be illegal migrants or an actual beacon of hope for hundreds of thousands of refugees. Consider the following: When European countries decide that they can’t accept any more refugees and will stop doing so, who will accept them? If they can’t go to the EU and their allies and can’t go back to their home countries, who do they have left to turn to?
I sincerely hope that if Mr. Sawiris’ plan becomes a formal proposal these issues will be resolved, thus ensuring the safety of any refugee who go to the islands. If indeed this proposal does becomes a reality though, it will be a fine example of humanity – and the enormous power of money.