Yemen’s HSA Pledges $1.2m to UN Drive to Avert Safer Tanker Oil Spill

This satellite image provided by Manar Technologies taken June 17, 2020, shows the FSO Safer tanker moored off Ras Issa port, in Yemen. (AP)
This satellite image provided by Manar Technologies taken June 17, 2020, shows the FSO Safer tanker moored off Ras Issa port, in Yemen. (AP)
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Yemen’s HSA Pledges $1.2m to UN Drive to Avert Safer Tanker Oil Spill

This satellite image provided by Manar Technologies taken June 17, 2020, shows the FSO Safer tanker moored off Ras Issa port, in Yemen. (AP)
This satellite image provided by Manar Technologies taken June 17, 2020, shows the FSO Safer tanker moored off Ras Issa port, in Yemen. (AP)

Yemen’s HSA Group on Thursday became the first private entity to pledge funds for a United Nations operation to avoid an oil spill from a tanker stranded off the coast of Yemen, as the UN urgently tries to secure an initial requirement of $80 million.

The international organization, which has so far raised over $60 million, has warned that the Safer, stranded since 2015 off a Red Sea oil terminal, could spill four times as much oil as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster near Alaska.

HSA, Yemen’s largest private company, announced a $1.2 million donation towards initially offloading the tanker, which holds 1.1 million barrels, Reuters reported.

“Given that there remains a large funding shortfall, and time is running out, HSA believes that the private sector must step forward,” Nabil Hayel Saeed Anam, managing director of HSA’s Yemen operations, said in a statement.

The UN has raised $64 million, including the HSA pledge and more than $142,000 through a public crowdfunding drive initiated in June and which will be relaunched later this month, a UN spokesperson told Reuters in response to a query.

The crowdfunding campaign had aimed to raise $5 million towards the plan to transfer the oil to a safe temporary vessel before winter seas increase the risk of a break up.

The UN would then arrange long-term replacement storage. The entire operation requires $144 million.

Russell Geekie, a spokesperson for the top UN official in Yemen, told Reuters the organization hoped HSA’s contribution would serve as a catalyst for other private entities.

He said $9-$10 million had been disbursed by donors for the operation so far. “The United Nations asks donors that have pledged funds to disburse them urgently and others that are in a position to contribute to do so as soon as possible.”

The Safer threatens an environmental disaster for Yemen, which is already grappling with a dire humanitarian crisis due to a seven-year war, and across the Red Sea. The UN said the cost of a clean-up alone would be $20 billion.



EU Envoy to Middle East: Our Top Priority is Preventing a Regional War

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on the village of Khiam in southern Lebanon, near the border with Israel (AFP)
Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on the village of Khiam in southern Lebanon, near the border with Israel (AFP)
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EU Envoy to Middle East: Our Top Priority is Preventing a Regional War

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on the village of Khiam in southern Lebanon, near the border with Israel (AFP)
Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on the village of Khiam in southern Lebanon, near the border with Israel (AFP)

The war in the Gaza Strip is a serious obstacle to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians but the European Union's Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process, Sven Koopmans, has expressed determination to push forward with efforts to achieve a two-state solution, despite opposition from the Israeli government.
In an interview with AFP, Koopmans emphasized that the current priority is to seek an end to the suffering in Gaza, while working to prevent the outbreak of a regional war that would particularly involve Lebanon, and to restart the peace process.
The secretive diplomat said his work was guided by the EU's 1980 declaration recognizing the “right to existence and to security” for Israel and “the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” including “self-determination.”
But Koopmans acknowledged divisions within the 27 existing members on the Middle East strife.
He said there is currently a need to find consensus among governments with different attitudes and interests on international relations.
This is evidenced by the large gap between the positions of EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell and countries such as Hungary or Czech Republic that both sought to block EU sanctions against Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank.
Named as special representative for the peace process in 2021, Koopmans said the European Union was one of the most energetic institutions pushing for a two-state solution.
He said Brussels is one of the capitals that is witnessing behind the scenes activity aimed at getting out of the crisis in Gaza, and that all EU members agree on the need to establish a Palestinian state.
Koopmans then highlighted that the 27 countries were Israel's largest trading partner and the top aid donor to the Palestinians.
“We are the biggest political neighbor to both of them. Of course, we are not the biggest security provider, let's be honest. But we are a big and relevant actor,” the Dutch diplomat said.
He noted that Spain, Slovenia and Ireland joined non-EU member Norway in recognizing a Palestinian state this year, adding that the move could “contribute” to a solution to the conflict.