Tuesday 21 March 2023

Dutch ditch plan to house refugees on offshore cruise ships

The Aurelia will not be housing Ukrainian refugees in Zaanstad. Photo: Lindemann97 via Wikimedia Commons

The Dutch government has decided not to press ahead with controversial suggestions that refugees be housed on cruise ships anchored off the coast.

The plan would be difficult to implement because of the need to ensure refugees could leave the ship and return to shore at will, junior justice minister Eric van der Burg told MPs in a briefing on Thursday.

The cabinet has rented three cruise ships to house refugees but has run into trouble finding suitable locations to moor them. Vlissingen has refused permission, Velsen Noord has said its dock is not suitable and Zaanstad has turned down the plan on pollution grounds.

Van der Burg said last week that he was looking at the option of the ships remaining at sea, if the access problem could be solved.

In his briefing on Thursday, Van der Burg said that officials are looking at how to make the dock in Velsen Noord suitable for the cruise ship, which will start housing refugees at the beginning of September.

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