THIS EGYPTIAN BILLIONAIRE OFFERS TO BUY AN ISLAND OFF ITALY OR GREECE TO REHOUSE SYRIAN REFUGEES

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Europe is now facing its largest refugee crisis since the Second World War, with governments divided over how to respond. More than 2,300 people have died at sea trying to the continent since January, many of them Syrians who have fled their country’s civil war. The image of Aylan Kurdi, a drowned Syrian toddler washed onto a Turkish beach, sparked horrified reactions around the world on Wednesday, increasing pressure on Western governments to resettle more refugees. In a television interview, Mr Sawiris said he would approach the governments of Greece and Italy about his plan. He later told AFP news agency that it would involve giving “temporary shelters to house the people, then… employing the people to build housing, schools, universities, hospitals”. It was not immediately clear whether Mr Sawiris would follow through on this plan, but the idea has been raised before. Critics have criticised similar proposals for their implication that refugees should not be integrated into existing political communities, and raised questions over whether a new settlement would be former on the basis of coercion or consent. The billionaire conceded the idea would 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.” Mr Sawiris is the chief executive of Orascom TMT, which operates mobile telephone networks in a number of Middle Eastern and African countries, as well as underwater communications networks ( via telegraph.co.uk )

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