As a result of a crisis in migrant centers, Amsterdam will host at least 1,000 asylum seekers on a cruise ship beginning on Tuesday.
City officials said the enormous ship would be moored in Vestelijk Havengebied, away from tourist attractions and canals, for at least six months starting on October 1.
If needed, it could accommodate 1,500 people.
Earlier this week, aid agencies warned of a humanitarian crisis at the Ter Apel migrant center in the northern Netherlands, where a three-month-old baby died.
“With the arrival of the cruise ship in Amsterdam, we are taking another step together in solving the crisis in the asylum chain,” said Dutch Migration Minister Erik van der Burgh.
Amsterdam city council said in a statement that the plan, which is funded by the central government, “will help to address the worrying humanitarian situation in Ter Apel”.
“The situation in Ter Appel is heartbreaking,” Rutger Groot Wassink, councilor in charge of social affairs and refugees, said in a statement.
“Now we must together solve the lack of reception sites so that refugees can find a place.”
Amsterdam is the second Dutch city to host refugees on a cruise after the municipality of Velsen-Nord after the government first announced in July that it planned to seek asylum on board ships.
Dutch human rights groups described the cruise plans at the time as “absurd”.
Over the weekend, Dutch authorities began busing asylum seekers from the Ter Apel center, where more than 700 people were sleeping outside the gates.
AFP correspondents on Friday saw hundreds of men on the ground under makeshift tarps, near a row of dirty portable toilets with no other facilities.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said after the baby’s death that there had been “shameful scenes at the center” and that mistakes had been made, but promised a “structural solution” to the problem.
The crisis was largely caused by staff shortages after the government cut capacity during the coronavirus pandemic.