Cruise ship that will house 1,000 asylum seekers docks in Amsterdam

The MS Galaxy arriving in Amsterdam habour. Photo: ANP/HH/Kim van Dam

A cruise liner that has been hired by the Dutch government to accommodate 1,000 asylum seekers has arrived in Amsterdam’s western harbour area.

The MS Galaxy, designed to carry up to 2,800 tourists, will spend at least six months docked in the harbour, between the Coentunnel and the mooring point for river cruisers.

The move is mainly aimed at relieving overcrowding at the Ter Apel reception centre in Groningen, where hundreds of asylum seekers have had to sleep on the grass verge outside and the charity Médicins Sans Frontières has described conditions as ‘inhumane’.

The ship will also accommodate some refugees who have been granted residency but are still waiting for a permanent home, as well as children, while up to 10% of spaces will be occupied by people who have claimed asylum from so-called safe countries.

The accommodation agency COA said education and day care facilities would be provided on board. The number of beds could be increased to 1,500 and the six-month period extended if necessary. In return the government has agreed to finance an extra 2,500 flexible homes in the city.

The first residents are expected to move in at the start of October. On Monday asylum seekers began coming on board another cruise ship, the Silja Europa, which has been moored in Velsen-Noord, near IJmuiden.

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