Ukrainian refugees to be housed aboard cruise ship on River Clyde

A total of 1,750 people will be accommodated on the cruise ship in Glasgow.

A second cruise ship which has been chartered to offer accommodation to displaced people who have fled from the conflict in Ukraine has arrived in Glasgow.

The MS Ambition has been chartered for six months and will host up to 1,750 people in 714 cabins while it is located at the River Clyde’s King George V docks.

People on board will have access to restaurants, child play facilities, shops, cleaning, and communal spaces, while their needs are accommodated.

As with any other temporary accommodation, those on board will be able to come and go as they please.

Partners will now work to put in place measures around safeguarding, health and safety, public protection and waste management to ensure that the ship is ready to welcome people. 

This will also include work to provide guests on board with access to appropriate support services, including healthcare and benefits support.

Minister with special responsibility for refugees from Ukraine Neil Gray said: “The Scottish Government is providing accommodation that is safe and sustainable while people are waiting to be matched to suitable longer term accommodation. 

“The arrival of the M/S Ambition in Glasgow is a key part of that provision which means we are providing sanctuary to more displaced people per head of population than any other part of the UK.

“We are working closely with the council and other local partners to finalise plans for how the ship will be used, with safeguarding of the people on board being the absolute priority.

“Now that the M/S Ambition has arrived, this work will begin at pace and people will move on board once the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council are satisfied that the necessary preparations, including health and safety checks, have been satisfied.

“We do not want people spending more time in temporary accommodation, such as the cruise ships, for any longer than is absolutely necessary. 

“We continue to take significant action to increase our temporary accommodation capacity as well as boosting our matching system to maximise the number of people who can be placed with volunteer hosts who have completed the necessary safeguarding checks.”

Selina Hales, founder of the charity Refuweegee said that there are concerns over the use of ships for this reason and whether or not they are appropriate for re-housing people, even if on a temporary basis.

She said: “We’ve seen the impact hotel detention has on people and the accommodation in cruise ships is far more confined than the accommodation in hotels that are still in use in Glasgow.

“We’ve seen the impact it has on people’s mental health; we’ve seen what it does to their engagement with community. These are things that are preventable. “

The first cruise ship, the MS Victoria, docked in the Leith area of Edinburgh at the end of July.

At the time Shona Robison, cabinet secretary for social justice, housing and local government, said the “safety and welfare of displaced people from Ukraine, who are primarily women and children who may have experienced much stress and trauma, is of paramount importance”.

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