Billionaire offers to buy island to house Syrian refugees

By Kate Hassett

Billionaire offers to buy island to house Syrian refugees
One of Egypt's richest men has offered to buy an island and set up infrastructure for Syria's displaced.

One of Egypt’s richest men, Naguid Sawiris, has made known his attempts to solve the Syrian refugee crisis by expressing interest in purchasing an island.

Last week, Sawiris made his intentions known over twitter, imploring the Greek and Italian governments to sell off one of their islands for purchase.

Worth an estimated $2.9 billion dollars, Sawiris’ plans could come to fruition given the right support.


Sawiris has noted that he is actively seeking an appropriate island, where after the initial cost of anything from $10 – $100 million, he would supply addition funds for infrastructural spending and aid for the settled refugees. The imaginary island has also been given a name by the billionaire – Ilan, the young child found on the Turkish shore after drowning in an attempt to find safety away from war-torn Syria.  

Whilst many are dismissing Sawiris’ ‘pipe dream’ island as impractical and ill-advised, political commentators and experts have been quick to stand to his defence.

“The proposal for a Refugee Nation should not be totally dismissed,” said Alexander Betts, University of Oxford refugee and forces migration expert in The Guardian. “First trusteeship offers a historical precedent…during the inter-war period the League of Nations manages territories in the collective interest and such an idea might be used today to host and protect refugees.

“Even if the current proposal is flawed, innovative and creative solutions to refugee challenges must be welcomed. Political leadership and imagination are certainly needed more than ever, if these ideas can trigger that that, his presence in this debate could offer valuable intervention.”

The civil war in Syria is continuing to displace millions of terrified peoples. Nearly half of the country’s population, according to the UN, have already fled the war-torn country, attempting to escape from the atrocities committed by Bashar al-Assad, as well as IS and the various militant groups that control parts of the country.

More than 11 million people are now without home or safety.

“Of course it’s feasible,” Sawiris told AFP. “The way [refugees] are being treated now, they are being treated like cattle.”

“Thank you to all who offered to help and supported my Refugee island idea… May god help me realise it.”





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