CAIRO (AP) – An international charity urged global donors on Wednesday to pay up on pledges to remove oil from a long-stranded tanker off Yemen to avoid an explosion or leak that could wreak environmental and economic disaster.
The call from Save the Children came as the Netherlands, the US and Germany were scheduled on Wednesday to announce the “successful funding of the emergency operation” to neutralize the threat from the FSO Safer oil tanker. The event, which includes the UN and the internationally recognized government of Yemen, takes place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The United Nations told the Associated Press on Monday that it has finally reached a promised goal of raising money to remove 1 million barrels of oil from the tanker, but that it still needs to convince all donors to pay off pledges for the first degree, $75 million of. operation.
Save the Children urged the international community to treat the tanker as an “international emergency.” He warned that turbulent winds and currents at sea in the winter are likely to “make the oil transfer operation more dangerous and increase the risk of the ship breaking up.”
He said breaking up the tanker would unleash “disastrous humanitarian, environmental and economic consequences”. He said the livelihood of Yemeni fishing communities could be wiped out immediately if the tanker leaks or explodes.
The tanker is a Japanese vessel built in the 1970s and sold to the Yemeni government in the 1980s to export up to 3 million barrels of oil stored from fields in Marib, a province in eastern Yemen.
The Iran-backed Houthi rebels control Yemen’s Western Red Sea ports, including Ras Issa, just 6 kilometers (about 4 miles) from where the Safer is moored, and the UN is negotiating with the rebel group on for years to try to get experts on. the tanker to examine it.
The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding in March, authorizing a four-month emergency operation to eliminate the immediate threat by transferring oil on the safer tanker to another vessel. In the longer term, the MOU calls for the Safer tanker to be replaced by another vessel capable of holding a similar amount of oil within 18 months.
The aging tanker is 360 meters (1,181 feet) long and has 34 storage tanks. It holds about four times the amount of oil estimated to have been released during the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill that devastated the coast of Alaska.