Plans by the Netherlands to house refugees arriving in the country on cruise ships have been described as “absurd” and illegal.
The Dutch government laid out this solution to overcrowded asylum centers in the country and has already commissioned three large ships with one due to be anchored in Velsen in the northern part of the country.
But NGOs and human rights experts said it is not a solution, but really is an absurd idea that could even be illegal.
Dutch officials are also examining how refugees can be allowed free movement on and off the ships in order to avoid claims that the people on board are being held captive illegally by the state.
The Netherlands claims this move is necessary because there is a lack of space in refugee centers following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sending large numbers of Ukrainians fleeing Vladimir Putin’s war. Since the beginning of the war, approximately 60,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the Netherlands.
The Dutch cabinet this week agreed to new plans, saying that about 3,000 refugees could be housed on the cruise ships beginning in September.
While three ships have been commissioned and one has a port, ministers are struggling to find other willing ports.
Refugees in the Netherlands have been forced to sleep on the grass outside of one refugee center in the village of Ter Appel, in the north part of the country, because of a lack of space.
NGOs are enraged by the ideas.
NGOs further condemned the plan when it came to light that the government is suggesting Ukrainians will not be put on the ships, but refugees from other countries will be.
The council for refugees, VluchtelingenWerk, said the idea of placing asylum seekers onto ships is “absurd.”
“The reception of asylum seekers is now far below standard,” a spokesperson for the NGO said.
“You don’t need research to think that you can’t do that to people who have fled war and violence. You take care of refugees as a society and not from a distance at sea.”