Houthi insurgents use the floating storage and offloading (FSO) facility Safer as a weapon and for political blackmailing, the Yemeni caretaker government said on Tuesday, calling for the UN Security Council to end persistent "hijacking of the tanker by militias that threaten Yemen and the world."
In a tweet, Yemen's foreign ministry slammed the Houthis for denying the UN team access to the vessel, and “using the FSO as a weapon and for political blackmailing.”
The Houthis obstinately put unattainable conditions, such as prolonging the life expectancy of an unfixable derelict reservoir, keeping Safer as a time bomb at its hands without caring for risky consequences, it added.
The FSO's cargo of crude needs to be immediately unloaded to avoid an environmental, humanitarian disaster due to the facility's continuously deteriorating condition, the ministry warned.
While the government unconditionally approved for the UN team access, and agreed to have the crude revenues used in paying the civil servants' salaries across Yemen, the Houthis persistently refuse to do so.
The Safer, which is located off the Yemeni seaport of Ras Isa, has not been maintained since 2014, with corrosion making the FSO and its 1.2 million barrels of crude at risk of looming explosion.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the head of the so-called Houthi Revolutionary Committee, said that the insurgents demanded that the UN brings in a third party to assess the situation on board the derelict ship.
“What worries the UN, its chief, and the coalition (Arab Coalition)? If they claim to be keen on the environment, they should involve a third party, represented by Germany or Sweden, in the maintenance of Safer,” al-Houthi tweeted.
The UN has recently called for expediting the issuance of needed access permits to the UN team of experts to assess and perform maintenance on the rundown vessel.