Egyptian TV mogul Naguib Sawiris wants to buy two privately owned Greek islands for refugees and name one “Aylan Island,” in memory of Aylan Kurdi.
Sawiris conceived of the idea after seeing the photo of dead Syrian refugee child Aylan Kurdi in the news. He told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in a special interview:
“…it’s the picture of Aylan that woke me up. It was a very touching picture. In addition to that, the way these pictures were coming out of Hungary, the way these refugees were being treated by the authorities there, and being, you know, beaten and put into the trains and buses, I mean it was just too much. This was the moment of what I said – I mean I cannot just sit like that and just do nothing, you know, and pretend it’s not my problem, you know.”
In that interview, Sawiris stated he was still deciding between working with Italian and Greek authorities in finding and purchasing two private islands to house Syrian refugees. It seems that Sawiri has settled on Greece and is working with Athens, as he recently tweeted the following media update about the plans.
There is no set timeline on when the island would be ready for the refugees. According to The Independent, Europe is seeing an estimated 10,000 new refugees a day fleeing the war torn Middle East. Concern in Europe over the identity and origins of these refugees has skyrocketed, as Lebanese government minister Elias Bou Saab recently warned that as many as 1 in 50 could actually be working with the Islamic State.
According to Forbes, Sawiris is worth $2.9 billion. He is the head of Orascom Telecom Media & Technology.