AMSTERDAM – Amsterdam approved a plan Tuesday to temporarily accommodate at least 1,000 migrants on a cruise ship moored in the Dutch capital's port as the Netherlands seeks to end an accommodation crisis that last week saw hundreds of asylum-seekers sleeping outside a reception center.
The ship will remain moored in Amsterdam for at least six months under an agreement between the city and the central government. It is the second Dutch city to approve plans for putting up migrants on a cruise liner. In both cases, the ships will be moored so residents can exit and enter at all times.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Friday said he was ashamed of the situation at the asylum reception center in the remote northeastern village of Ter Apel where 700 migrants had to sleep outdoors in unsanitary conditions because there was no space for them inside.
The Dutch arm of Doctors Without Borders sent a team to the camp to provide medical assistance to the migrants, the first time the agency has ever deployed in the Netherlands.
“The situation in Ter Apel is heartbreaking. Together we must solve the shortage of accommodation so that refugees can find a place,” said Amsterdam alderman Rutger Groot Wassink.
Groot Wassink called the cruise ship, which is not yet in Amsterdam but should be in use starting Oct. 1, a temporary, short-term solution and said the Dutch government needs to work with municipalities to reform the country's asylum system.
One of the reasons for the crisis is a nationwide housing shortage. Once asylum-seekers are granted refugee status, many are unable to find a place to live and have to stay in the refugee centers, which were intended only as temporary accommodations for people awaiting decisions on their asylum application.
The minister in charge of migration, Eric van der Burg, thanked Amsterdam.
“Temporary large-scale accommodation is very important to restore calm to asylum accommodation,” he said.
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