UN calls for $80m to avert ‘imminent’ oil spill in Yemen
DUBAI, April 8, 2022 (AFP) – The UN said on Friday it was seeking nearly $80 million for an emergency operation to prevent a catastrophic oil spill in the Red Sea off war-torn Yemen.
The 45-year-old oil tanker FSO Safer, long used as a floating oil storage platform with 1.1 million barrels of crude on board, has been moored since 2015 at the rebel-held Yemeni port of Hodeidah, without being maintained .
“The Safer is at imminent risk of a major spill, which would create a humanitarian and ecological disaster centered on a country already decimated by more than seven years of war,” the United Nations said in a statement.
“International support – including funding – is needed now to implement the UN-coordinated plan to deal with the threat before it is too late.”
The UN said the emergency part of the two-stage operation would see the toxic cargo pumped from the storage platform to a temporary replacement vessel at a cost of $79.6 million.
In the second phase, a replacement platform would be installed at a cost to be finalized over the coming week.
“Implementation of the plan cannot begin without donor funding,” the UN said, adding that the Netherlands will host a donor meeting.
He said “rapid pledges of funds from donors” were needed to start work by the second half of May.
“Waiting beyond that could mean delaying the start of the project for months, leaving the ticking time bomb spinning.”
Yemen’s Huthi rebels already agreed a “cooperation framework” with the United Nations on the issue last month.
The UN has said an oil spill could destroy ecosystems, shut down the fishing industry and shut down the vital port of Hodeidah for six months.