Amsterdam ( Associated Press) – Amsterdam on Tuesday approved plans to accommodate at least 1,000 migrants on a cruise ship anchored in the Dutch capital’s port.
The decision comes amid a crisis in which hundreds of refugees spent the night at the entrance of a detention center in the city.
Under an agreement reached between the municipality and the central government, the cruise ship will remain anchored in the port of Amsterdam for at least six months. It is the second Dutch city to approve a plan to accommodate expatriates on cruise ships. In both cases, boats will be stationed in ports so that migrants can enter and leave freely.
Prime Minister Mark Root on Friday expressed his embarrassment about the state of the migrant processing center in the northeastern village of Ter Appel, where some 700 migrants had to sleep outside in unhygienic conditions because there was no room for them inside.
The Dutch chapter of Médecins Sans Frontires sent a delegation to the expatriate camp to provide them with medical care, the first time a humanitarian organization has carried out a mission in the Netherlands.
“The situation in Ter Appel is heartbreaking. Together we must address the housing shortage so that refugees can find a place to live,” said Rutger Grote Wasink, a councilor in Amsterdam.
Cruise ship access, the councilor said, is only a temporary solution and the Dutch government should work with municipalities to reform the country’s asylum system.
One of the causes of the crisis is a nationwide housing shortage. Many migrants, once granted refugee status, cannot find a place to live and must live in centers that were created only as temporary shelters while courts study asylum requests.
Erik van der Burgh, the minister in charge of migration, thanked the Amsterdam municipality.
“Large-scale temporary housing is very important for asylum seekers to defuse the situation,” van der Berg said.