UN Launches Campaign to Collect Funds, Clean Pollution Caused by Sinking Ship in Red Sea

The Belize-flagged cargo ship Rubymar damaged in a missile strike claimed by the Houthis. AFP
The Belize-flagged cargo ship Rubymar damaged in a missile strike claimed by the Houthis. AFP
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UN Launches Campaign to Collect Funds, Clean Pollution Caused by Sinking Ship in Red Sea

The Belize-flagged cargo ship Rubymar damaged in a missile strike claimed by the Houthis. AFP
The Belize-flagged cargo ship Rubymar damaged in a missile strike claimed by the Houthis. AFP

The UN has invited donor countries to contribute to the costs of cleaning up pollution caused by the sinking of the British Rubymar following a Houthi attack off the coast of Mocha in February, revealed Yemeni government sources.

“The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has issued a call for contributions of donor countries to help clean up pollution that has begun to emerge due to the sinking of Rubymar in Yemen,” the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday.

The Rubymar sank following a Houthi attack on February 18.

According to sources, the IMO’s call to clean up pollution followed the “unfounded” recommendations of a UN panel of experts, who suggested that the ship be left to sink, and assured that its cargo of fuel and fertilizer would slowly leak into the water and its effect would disappear.

“IMO has not yet responded to the observations of the Yemeni government concerning the ship, but it issued a call for contributions of oil pollution response equipment to support operations related to the sinking of Rubymar following a missile strike launched by the Iranian-backed Houthis,” the sources said.

Five months ago, the cargo ship Rubymar was targeted by a Houthi ballistic missile, IMO said earlier.

Two weeks later, it sank off the coast of Mocha with approximately 22,000 metric tons of ammonium phosphate-sulphate fertilizer, 200 tons of heavy fuel oil, and 80 tons of marine diesel on board.

Oil Slick

IMO said the ship sank in approximately 100m of water and resulted in a 29-km oil slick in the days following the incident.

The ship is currently partially submerged at the location of its sinking, with the remaining bunker fuel and fertilizer cargo onboard representing a significant environmental threat to Yemen, in particular to the nearby Hanish Islands, a biologically rich area, it added.

IOM said it takes the opportunity to invite in-kind contributions of spill response equipment in support of Yemen in the face of this environmental threat, recognizing the lack of specialized oil spill response equipment within the country to respond to a possible leak from the ship.

The 49-item list of equipment needed to respond to this environmental disaster includes equipment for marine containment and recovery operations, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROUV or ROV).

The IMO’s call came while the UN is still unable to complete the salvaging of the dilapidated Safar oil tanker after the cargo of oil aboard the tanker was pumped onto a replacement vessel purchased from donor donations, due to Houthi objections.

The Yemeni government has been insistent that the international community offer immediate assistance to handle the Rubymar ship and retrieve it to prevent its cargo from spilling into the sea.



Ruling Baath Party Controls Syrian Parliament

Voters cast their ballots at a polling station in Damascus (EPA)
Voters cast their ballots at a polling station in Damascus (EPA)
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Ruling Baath Party Controls Syrian Parliament

Voters cast their ballots at a polling station in Damascus (EPA)
Voters cast their ballots at a polling station in Damascus (EPA)

The ruling Baath Party took control of the Syrian Parliament, winning 170 seats out of 250 in the parliamentary elections announced Thursday.
The National Front parties, allied with the Baath, won 14 seats, bringing the total number of the Front alliance to 184 deputies, while 66 independent candidates reached the parliament.
According to the lists announced by the Baath Party’s regional leadership, members of the Baath Party topped the election results by a wide margin. The highest voter turnout was registered in the Homs Governorate, which accounted for more than 600,000 voters.
The Higher Judicial Elections Committee announced on Thursday the results of the People’s Assembly elections for the fourth legislative term, which took place on Monday.
The Syrian Arab Agency (SANA) quoted the head of the committee, Judge Jihad Murad, as saying that the participation rate in the elections reached 38.16 percent.
In a press conference at the Ministry of Justice, Murad announced the names of the winning candidates, noting that petitions can be submitted before the Supreme Constitutional Court on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
He added that the committee has sought to guarantee a democratic climate to ensure a smooth and fair voting process.
“The committee was keen to provide a democratic atmosphere by taking all necessary procedures to ensure freedom of voters and integrity of the elections,” he said.
Murad also pointed to the interaction of citizens and keenness to exercise their electoral right in choosing their representatives for membership in the People’s Assembly.
He stressed that the winning candidates possess scientific competence, various experiences, and social standing, which allows the new council to perform its national role to the fullest extent.
The Syrian People’s Assembly consists of 250 members. 1,516 candidates participated in the electoral race, while 8,151 polling stations were distributed in areas controlled by the Syrian government.
No elections took place in the regions of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria, nor in those controlled by the Syrian opposition in the country’s north-west.