Sweden plans to house migrants on cruise ship

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Stockholm—Sweden plans to house nearly1,800 migrants on a luxury cruise ship, as it struggles to cope with its share of the huge migrant influx into Europe, officials said Thursday. An American charter company, US Shipmanagers, is set to provide its liner the Ocean Gala, built in 1982 and transformed into a floating hotel anchored in a Baltic Sea port. “The provider has to find a homeport and the vessel has to be appraised” to make sure it meets safety and comfort standards, Swedish migration agency spokesman Alexandra Elias told AFP.
Negotiations are well on track to agree details of the arrangement, under which the agency will pay 450 Swedish krona (48 euros) per passenger to US Shipmanagers. The charter company wants to anchor the Ocean Gala in Haernoesand, some 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of Stockholm, but local authorities there are opposed, officially for administrative reasons. Sweden is struggling to find space for the 163,000 asylum seekers who arrived in the Scandinavian country last year, part of the huge wave of migrants flooding into Europe, many fleeing war in Syria.
Due to a shortage of beds in migrant centres, thousands are housed in churches, mosques, gymnasiums and evacuation centres run by civil security authorities.—APP