Netherlands to spend €750 million renting ships for asylum shelter: Report

AMSTERDAM - The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) expects to push 750 million euros into sheltering asylum seekers on ships in the coming years. Despite the asylum distribution law currently being handled by the Senate, the COA expects this costly and temporary solution to be the only way to ensure that no one has to sleep outside, Trouw reports based on a tender announcement published by the COA and confirmation from chairman Milo Schoenmaker. 

The distribution law will oblige municipalities to create shelter for asylum seekers. The Senate is currently considering the bill. But even if it is introduced tomorrow, the COA expects to “still have to rely on these types of emergency locations for the time being,” Schoenmaker said. The fact is that many municipalities are reluctant to take in asylum seekers, and the COA is facing a permanent shortage of beds. So, the advantages of ships outweigh the disadvantages. 

“First of all, this is not our dream choice. We prefer to invest in permanent locations on land. Purchasing land and constructing or renovating a building is always cheaper in the long run than this temporary solution. I will continue to share that message with municipalities,” Schoenmaker said. 

But in the meantime, the people fleeing to the Netherlands still need a warm place to sleep. “By renting ships, you can quickly make shelter spaces. These ships are equipped for a longer stay, and you can moor them relatively easily. They really helped us,” Schoemaker said. Over the past two years, dozens of ships across the Netherlands have sheltered thousands of asylum seekers and refugees. 

It’s often easier to find support for shelter on ships than a shelter on the mainland, Schoemaker explained. “It is inherent to a vessel that it can sail away again at some point. We notice that in some cases, there is less discussion about ships due to the temporary nature,” Schoenmaker said. “The most important task is that people do not sleep outside.” 

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