Safer oil tanker (Twitter/EUinYemen)

Yemen Near the End of Safer Environmental Nightmare


Wed, 26-07-2023 07:27 PM, Aden

Hodeidah (South24) 

The United Nations (UN) announced yesterday the start of unloading more than one million crude oil barrels from the dilapidated Safer tanker in the Red Sea to the replacement tanker "Nautica".

The UN statement said that the process of transporting crude oil from the Safer tanker, which is moored kilometers from the Yemeni governorate of Hodeidah, will take approximately 19 days.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, in a video statements, that the organization "has begun an operation to defuse what might be the world's largest ticking time bomb."

"In the absence of anyone else willing or able to perform this task, the UN stepped up and assumed the risk to conduct this very delicate operation," he added.

Guterres said the process required sustained political action. He thanked the supporters who funded the operation to the tune of $140 million, $55 million of which went to the replacement tanker "Nautica".

Guterres recalled the imminent catastrophe of the explosion of the Safer floating tank or the oil leakage from it.

"Entire fishing communities would be wiped out," he said. "Hundreds of thousands of jobs would instantly disappear; whole communities would be exposed to deadly toxins; major ports including Hodeidah."

"Shipping all the way to the Suez Canal could be disrupted for weeks. The potential clean-up bill alone could easily run into the tens of billions of dollars," he added.

Guterres said that the United Nations will soon need about $20 million to finish the project, which includes cleaning and scrapping the Safer tanker.

Several countries welcomed the start of the Safer rescue operation. The US State Department spokesman said, "We welcome the start of the process of unloading and transporting 1.14 million barrels of oil from the Safer oil tanker."

"This is a critical step towards implementing the UN development emergency plan with the aim of averting a regional economic, environmental and humanitarian crisis," the statement added.

The European Union, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands also welcomed the start of the process. The Netherlands is the largest donor among the countries in the Safer rescue plan, after providing about $8 million.

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