An Island of Hope

It appears that Europe has suddenly developed a conscience and decided to accommodate the current wave of refugees.  This is good.  It makes me proud to live in Europe, while Americans are screaming about putting up a wall on the Mexican border to keep out the hordes of murdering rapists.

Naguib Sawiris

Naguib Sawiris

However, there are a couple of points to keep in mind.  This sudden outpouring of good will and openness is largely due to one sad photograph of a dead three year old boy.  There is still a lot of resistance to immigration, xenophobia, and flat out racism in Europe and it will wax as memory of that photograph wanes, and the reality of dealing with a new minority sets in.  Europe and the U.S. are really not different in this regard.  The left/right, inclusion/exclusion split is about the same, about 50/50 in both places.

Also, although this wave of refugees will (it appears) be absorbed, there will be another wave, and another.  Peace in the Middle East is still  elusive.  So, what can be done?

Enter Naguib Sawiris.  He is an Egyptian billionaire who has offered to buy an island from either Greece or Italy (which he would name Hope) just to house the refugees.  On this island, he would provide refugees with jobs building a new community – homes, schools, hospitals, a port, etc… He has said that there is no  limit to what he will spend on this.  There are a couple of snags in his plan.  First, even though he’s said there is no limit to what he will spend, there obviously is.  If he has 10 billion euros, for instance, then the limit is 10 billion euros.  Also, most uninhabited islands are uninhabited for a reason, such as uninhabitability.  Third, any island is going to eventually reach capacity, and what then?

Still, I think it’s a noble plan.  As to the financial limits, I hope that the governments of Greece and Italy deal with him in a spirit of co-operation.  Ditto the United Nations, and the hive mind and incredible fund raising power of the internet.

Sawiris has led.  If others follow, then his idea might work.  Land can be transformed, and made habitable.  We have the technology.  As far as what to do when that island reaches capacity, that is plan C, that is another problem, and one we will have to deal with eventually in any event.

I wish Sawiris all the luck in the world, and hope he gets support from every side.


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