A tripartite meeting between the Yemeni government, the UN, and the Netherlands was held in Aden to discuss the status of the FSO Safer tanker and efforts to initiate the implementation of the first phase of the UN plan to empty and maintain the tanker to avoid a global environmental disaster.
The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly, and several Yemeni ministers and experts.
Since their coup against the legitimacy in Yemen, the Houthi militias have obstructed all efforts to empty the tanker's reservoir and have more than once prevented the implementation of urgent UN maintenance.
The UN convinced the Houthis of its plan, about $80 million, to start the rescue operation.
The Yemeni government offered to empty the tanker, sell the crude, and use the revenues to support the health sector in the Houthi-controlled areas, but the militias rejected the offer.
Yemeni official sources stated that the tripartite meeting discussed the situation of the Safer tanker and efforts to implement the first phase of the UN plan to empty it and maintain it.
Saba Agency reported that the meeting dealt with practical steps to solve the problem of the FSO Safer and joint coordination to mobilize international efforts to cover the funding gap for the UN plan.
The agency quoted Abdul-Malik as saying in the meeting that the issue of the tanker is a real threat to the Red Sea, the lives and livelihoods of millions of Yemenis, and neighboring countries.
The Prime Minister said the tanker was a "ticking bomb," explaining that it has been operational for 45 years and carries over one million barrels of crude oil.
He warned that it reached a significant deterioration, as maintenance operations have stopped since the beginning of the war, reiterating that any collapse or explosion of the reservoir would be catastrophic and exceed any environmental disaster in human history.
Abdulmalik explained that the cost of dealing with environmental damage in the event of the tanker's explosion and oil leakage would be tens of billions.
The government has always been clear in rejecting the politicization of the issue, or its inclusion in any political discussions, asserted Abdulmalik, noting that authorities have repeatedly demanded that United Nations experts be allowed onboard the tanker to evaluate and empty it.
The Yemeni prime minister thanked the Netherlands and the international community for addressing the Safer oil tanker and its adoption of a path that neutralizes the danger of the reservoir by replacing another tanker with it.
Abdulmalik hoped that the funding gap for the first phase would be covered and that the UN would start implementing the first phase soon, before the hurricane season and without hindrance from the Houthi militias.
Meanwhile, Yemeni official sources announced that the Dutch Minister confirmed her country's interest in the issue of the tanker and realized the catastrophic risks of any leakage or explosion.
The Dutch minister also confirmed her country's efforts to finance the entire plan and empty and maintain the oil reservoir, according to the plan prepared by the United Nations.