Shelter refugees from overfull camps on cruise ships: Dutch MPs

A majority in the lower house of Dutch parliament is in favor of sheltering refugees currently staying in overfull camps on the Greek island of Lesbos on cruise ships in order to prevent the coronavirus from spreading among them like wildfire. The parliamentarians called on the Dutch government to push for this solution on a European level, AD reports.

Tens of thousands of refugees are currently living in dire conditions in camps in Greece. Previous European agreements to redistribute refugees among the EU Member States are slow to get off the ground. And in the meantime, the coronavirus is spreading and there is no room in the camps for the people living there to maintain social distancing. 

SP, GroenLinks, PvdA, D66, ChristenUnie, and CDA therefore pointed to an opinion piece written by historian Tineke Bennema and psychologist Esseline van de Sande in Trouw late last month. They suggested moving refugees from these overcrowded camps to the countless cruise ships currently not being used due to the coronavirus.

The Dutch parliamentarians find this a good solution to "provide people with the care they need to prevent the epidemic from spreading". They called on State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol of Justice and Security, responsible for Asylum, to push for this measure with migration commissioner Ylva Johansson. 

The Dutch council for refugees Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland is pleased that three of the four coalition parties now seem to recognize the need to evacuate refugees from the overcrowded camps. "But this proposal alone is not enough," the council said to AD. "Many Member States have already taken in refugees evacuated from Greece. The Netherlands must also be prepared to cooperate with other countries in the evacuation program that is already being implemented."