The United Nations has expressed regret that the Houthi militias have continued to prevent international experts to board and assess the Safer oil tanker loaded with over 1.1 million barrels of crude oil off the Yemeni coast.
The tanker hasn’t been maintained for over five years and is at risk of leaking, causing environmental damage in the Red Sea.
During his daily press briefing on Wednesday, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric explained that some new delays after additional requests made by the Houthis focus on “logistics and security arrangements,” and “it's now difficult to say exactly when the mission could be deployed."
“Unfortunately, we can’t finalize mission preparations until all of the issues are resolved. We understand that many Member States, including donors to the project, are extremely concerned by these new delays. We, of course, share those concerns.”
“The UN remains eager to deploy the mission at the earliest possible opportunity. This mission is an important first step to avert an environmental and humanitarian disaster," Dujarric told reporters.
He said there is about 1.1 million barrels of oil onboard the ship.
“A leak would have devastating ecological, humanitarian and economic consequences, not only for the people of Yemen, but for the entire region around the Red Sea.”
Dujarric also warned that the worsening situation in Marib governorate could force hundreds of thousands of residents to flee, calling for an “immediate de-escalation of violence.”
“At least 8,000 people have been displaced in Marib governorate in recent weeks due to the escalating hostilities. The vast majority of the displaced are women and children,” he said.
“This comes on top of already high levels of displacement and humanitarian needs in that governorate,” said Dujarric, adding that “displacement to and within Marib accounted for two-thirds of all displacements in Yemen last year.”
Newly displaced households are receiving food, hygiene kits, health care and other assistance, he said. However, he warned that “a worsening of the situation could quickly overwhelm existing capacities and force hundreds of thousands to flee.”
The UN "encourages all parties in Yemen to redouble their efforts to support the work of Martin Griffiths in achieving a political solution and a nationwide ceasefire as soon as possible.”
The official also pointed out that the Yemen high-level pledging event in March is a crucial opportunity for the international community to support the humanitarian response and show solidarity with Yemen's people.
He indicated that about $3.85 billion is needed to provide humanitarian assistance and protection for 16 million people in Yemen in 2021.