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UN, US Seek Funding to Save Safer Tanker off Yemen

UN, US Seek Funding to Save Safer Tanker off Yemen

Monday, 11 April, 2022 - 05:15
This satellite image provided by Manar Technologies taken June 17, 2020, shows the FSO Safer tanker moored off Ras Issa port, in Yemen. (AP)

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) stressed on Sunday its support to all international efforts aimed at salvaging the Safer oil tanker that has been moored off the coast of Yemen's Hodeidah for years.

Carrying over 1.1 million barrels of crude oil, the FSO Safer tanker’s long-term presence in the Red Sea has raised fears of a massive oil spill or explosion that could cause an environmental catastrophe.

GCC Secretary-General Dr. Nayef Al-Hajraf stressed the need to push forward and accelerate efforts to resolve the crisis.

He held talks on Sunday with the United States' envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, and United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly.

The meeting tackled the UN's plan in addressing the Safer crisis and international humanitarian groups' efforts in Yemen.

"The United States is committed to supporting the UN -led emergency Safer solution to avoid catastrophic oil leak, spill or explosions in the Red Sea," tweeted the US State Department for Near Eastern Affairs after Lenderking held talks in Riyadh with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, Al-Hajraf, and King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) Supervisor General, Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah.

Last week, the UN revealed a "viable" plan to avoid any oil leak or explosion of the tanker.

The plan, revealed by Gressly, calls for the installation of a long-term replacement vessel for the vessel within a target period of 18 months. It also calls for implementing a four-month emergency operation to eliminate the immediate threat by transferring oil from the Safer to a safe temporary vessel.

The two tankers will remain in place until the oil is transferred to the permanent replacement vessel, at which point the existing Safer would be towed to a yard and sold for salvage.

The plan is estimated to cost around 80 million dollars. Gressly is on a tour of the region to collect the funds. Lenderking will join his efforts, confirmed the US State Department for Near Eastern Affairs.

"Funds are urgently needed to prevent an economic, humanitarian, and environmental catastrophe in the region. Let’s take action now!," it tweeted.

Meanwhile, the Iran-backed Houthi militias, which had agreed to the UN plan, appear to be reneging on the deal.

Ibrahim al-Saraji, a Houthi official tasked with negotiating over the Safer's cargo, accused the UN of failing to present an operational plan to implement the agreement, reported Houthi media.

The memorandum of understanding stipulates that the UN would prepare an operational plan, but that has so far not happened, he claimed.

He described the delay as a "bad omen".

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