There is a major “refugee” problem facing this world today, and while some politicians turn a blind eye to the fact, there are plenty of people out there who realize that something needs to be done. Perhaps it was the photo of 2-year-old Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed ashore after his boat capsized in the rough seas while traveling from Turkey to Greece, or perhaps it’s the mere fact that there are currently over 20 million refugees worldwide, looking for a place to live, that suddenly has the world seeking solutions to this age-old problem.
Regardless, the Aylan Kurdi incident certainly opened a lot of eyes and brought home a message that something needs to be done. One of the people who has taken it upon himself to figure out a solution, is Egyptian billionaire businessman Naguib Sawiris. Sawiris, who is worth an estimated $3.1 billion, has presented an idea to the public. That idea is to purchase a Greek island, which he plans to call Aylan Island (in remembrance of little Aylan), and use it to house thousands of refugees.
The plan, which Sawiris outlined via a notice released by his communications office, calls for the purchase of at least one of two Greek Islands which he has identified as being right for his project.
“We have corresponded with their owners and expressed our interest to go into negotiation with them provided they can acquire the approval of the government of Greece to host the maximum number of refugees allowable according to the Greek laws,” the offices of Sawiris explained. ” We are seeking the government’s consent to be wiling to take care of the administrative process of permitting entrance of refugees to the island, which will fall under Greek jurisdiction.”
This is an idea that seems as though it could be the perfect solution to the many individuals who have fled their home countries in pursuit of safety. While Sawiris doesn’t plan to fund the entire purchase himself, he is willing to put up around $200 million of his own money for the project. At the same time, he says that he has received “tons of expressions of interest from people who are willing to donate” to the project. For these donations, he suggests opening up a joint-stock company and taking in donations as a means of purchasing equity in the company.
“Establishing a legal entity will allow us to accept donations in a legitimate way, as anyone who will donate will get shares in the company, thus becoming a partner in the island and in the project,” Sawiris explains. “This way, any money put in will not be completely lost, as the asset (the island) will remain.”
Sawiris is working with the UN Refugee Agency, in order to make this project a reality, barring everything else works out politically.
It’s not only donations in the form of money that Sawiris is asking for, but he’s also encouraging those willing to donate their own time and energy to the cause, to come forward. He has formed a team to come up with a list of different areas in which volunteer work will be required. His team is categorizing volunteers into areas of expertise and defining ways in which they can contribute to the formation of Aylan Island.
Undoubtedly this is a brilliant idea, but whether or not it actually gets off the ground remains to be seen. While refugee camps like this could be a tremendous way to provide temporary housing for individuals who have fled their countries, other problems could still arise once these individuals are asked to return home.