It’s just been announced that a luxury cruise ship, perhaps more used to sailing the Mediterranean and Caribbean, is going to be used to house refugees as a temporary asylum centre.
Should it go through, the ship (the Island Escape) will be docked off Sweden’s cold, Baltic coast as part of a deal organised by Sweden’s Migration Agency which is close to signing with a charter company that will see the ship berthed in Harnosand, a small port around two hundred and seventy miles north of Stockholm.
The charter of the once popular Island Escape has come about as contracts the agency has with hundreds of hotels and campsites around the country come to an end this spring. This has been exacerbated by the fear that the manageable 700 refugees a week Sweden currently receives will again increase with the coming warm weather to last year’s record highs of 10,000 per week.
Willis Aberg, Accommodation Chief for Sweden’s Migration Agency commented to say “I am extremely pleased. This means that we are prepared, so that we’re not going to end up in a situation where we can’t offer a roof over people’s heads”.
What do you think? As Willis Aberg pointed out, the ship is being used almost as a floating block of flats rather than the luxury accommodation past guests would probably recognise. The refugees won’t be receiving all the comforts you’d normally associate with a cruise ship, with the liner instead being used as a temporary hotel.
The Island Escape hasn’t actually been used as a cruise ship since last December when it was renamed the Ocean Gala, taken to Brest in France and used as a floating hotel. Is this a realistic solution for providing a roof over people’s heads who desperately need it?
What else do you think Sweden could/should have done?
Let us know in the comments below…