Photo from UK Telegraph
In the tragedy that is the Syrian refugee problem in Europe, Naguib Sawiris, Chief Executive of Orascom TMT, a billionaire from Egypt, has offered a solution that may well prevent more of the heartbreaking images of drowned children washing up on the shores of the sea. He wants Italy or Greece to sell him an island where all these people can live together. From the Morocco World News:
He announced his offer on his Twitter account, making worldwide headlines. Sawiris makes a call to, “Greece or Italy sell me an island, I’ll call its independence and host the migrants and provide jobs for them building their new country”.
The generous offer from Mr. Sawiris includes the means to build infrastructure and allow these people a place to call home as their country is being torn apart in a proxy war between Russia and a number of other nations who will never admit they are fighting it. More than 2,500 of the 3 million refugees running hell bent out of Syria to escape the fighting have died while trying to escape.
As a practical matter, building an island nation quickly may or may not be feasible aside from getting either Italy or Greece to give up an island that was won in some war or negotiation long forgotten by everyone but them. And, from an American perspective, this smacks very much of “we don’t want the refugees, so let us just stash them in an internment camp somewhere out of sight.” We’ve done that, and it doesn’t turn out so well. The cost of the island itself – between $10 million and $100 million – is actually not that much of a hurdle.
However, Mr. Sawiris offers a solution to a crisis that the leadership of Europe does not want to have to deal with. As such, it is the beginning of discussion on what to do with Syria, and the “civil war” there. The notion of a new island nation cannot be dismissed. At least this gentleman understands the human factors involved in just watching refugees die. From The Daily Mail:
He conceded such a plan could face challenges, including the likely difficulty of persuading Greece or Italy to sell an island and figuring out jurisdiction and customs regulations.
But those who took shelter would be treated as ‘human beings,’ he said. ‘The way they are being treated now, they are being treated like cattle.’
That recognition is desperately needed. Now, shall we discuss the 20th century nation building of Palestine, Iraq and Israel that is now falling apart?