Amsterdam to house 1,000 migrants on cruise ship moored in city

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Amsterdam will temporarily house at least 1,000 migrants on a cruise ship moored in its port under newly approved plans.

It comes as the Netherlands deals with an accommodation crisis that saw hundreds of asylum seekers sleeping outside a reception centre last week.

The vessel will remain moored in Amsterdam for at least six months.

The capital has become the second Dutch city to approve plans for putting migrants up on a cruise liner.

In both cases the ships will be moored, so residents can enter and exit at all times.

The cruise ship is not yet in Amsterdam, but should be in use from 1 October.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday that he was ashamed of the situation at the asylum reception centre in the remote north-eastern village of Ter Apel, where 700 migrants were forced to sleep outside 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 to 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.

Mr Groot Wassink described the cruise ship as a temporary short-term solution and said the Dutch government needed to work with municipalities to reform the country's asylum system.

One reason behind 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 refugee centres, which were intended only as temporary accommodation for people awaiting decisions on their asylum applications.

The minister in charge of migration, Eric van der Burg, thanked Amsterdam, saying: "Temporary large-scale accommodation is very important to restore calm to asylum accommodation."