December 8, 2022

Cairo (AFP) – An international charity on Wednesday urged global donors to pay up their pledges to remove oil from a giant oil tanker long-stranded and rusty off the coast of Yemen to avoid an explosion or spill that could cause an environmental and economic disaster.

Save the Children’s call came as the Netherlands, the United States and Germany were set to announce Wednesday “successful funding for an emergency operation” to neutralize the threat from the oil tanker FSO Safer. The event, which also includes the United Nations and the internationally recognized Yemeni government, is taking place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

The United Nations told The Associated Press on Monday that it had finally reached a goal that pledged money to remove 1 million barrels of oil from the tanker, but it still had to persuade all donors to pay their pledges. For the first phase, $75 million of the operation.

Save the Children urged the international community to treat the tanker as an “international emergency”. It warned that winds and turbulent currents at sea in winter were likely to “make the process of transporting oil more dangerous and increase the risk of ship disintegration”.

It said the collapse of the tanker would lead to “catastrophic humanitarian, environmental and economic consequences”. She said the livelihoods of fishing communities in Yemen could be immediately wiped out if the tanker leaked or exploded.

The tanker is a Japanese-made vessel built in the 1970s and sold to the Yemeni government in the 1980s to store up to 3 million barrels of export oil pumped from fields in Yemen’s eastern Ma’rib Governorate.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels control Yemen’s western Red Sea ports, including Ras Issa, just 6 kilometers (about 4 miles) from where the Safer docks, and the United Nations has been negotiating with the rebel group for years to try to get experts on this. the field. carrier to be checked.

The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding in March, allowing for a four-month emergency operation to eliminate the immediate threat by transferring oil on the Safer tanker to another vessel. In the longer term, the MOU calls for the Safer tanker to be replaced by another vessel capable of holding a similar amount of oil within 18 months.

The old tanker was 360 meters (1,811 ft) long and contained 34 storage tanks. It contains about four times the estimated amount of oil released in the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill that devastated the Alaskan coast.

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