Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Yemeni Government Calls on Immediate UN Intervention for Derelict Oil Tanker

Yemeni Government Calls on Immediate UN Intervention for Derelict Oil Tanker

Sunday, 5 July, 2020 - 08:30
Safer oil tanker, Getty Images
Jeddah - Asma al-Ghabri

Yemen’s government has urged the UN Security Council to intervene to prevent a rundown oil tanker, Safer, from leaking more than a million barrels of oil into the Red Sea.

Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hadhrami called on the UNSC to hold a special session following the Iran-backed Houthi militia’s refusal to allow UN experts to conduct their five-year maintenance on the ship.

Al-Hadhrami, in a letter, urged the Council to undertake its responsibilities to avoid an environmental catastrophe.

An oil leak from the Safer’s tanks would be “one of the biggest environmental disasters in the region and the world,” he told Christoph Heusgen, Germany’s Permanent Representative to the UN and President of UNSC.

The Houthis have rejected all independent international requests to board the vessel, including the latest one from UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths, who demanded access for an international technical team.

Al-Hadhrami, in his letter, briefed the UNSC about all government and international efforts, including the government approving a separate proposal to resolve the Safer oil tanker crisis presented recently by Griffiths.

Houthis have rejected the proposal.

Al-Hadhrami quoted previous government letters and statements to the UN which showcase the oil tanker’s deteriorating situation.

The tanker, which has been floating near the port city of Hodeidah since 1989 following an oil spill, is at risk of exploding and causing a massive environmental disaster.

Safer – often described by officials as a ticking time bomb – has not docked since 2014 and is currently in waters controlled by the Houthis.

The minister called on the Council to address the situation immediately and separate the issue from Yemen’s ongoing crisis.

An environmental catastrophe would pose a more immediate threat to Yemen and the region, he added.

Editor Picks