March 30, 2023

CAIRO (AP) — An international charity urged global donors Wednesday to pay off their pledges to remove oil from a long-stranded and corroded supertanker in Yemen to avoid an explosion or leak that could cause environmental and economic disaster.

Save the Children’s call comes as the Netherlands, the United States and Germany are scheduled on Wednesday to announce “successful funding of emergency operations” to neutralize the threat to the FSO safe oil tankers. The event, which also included the UN and the internationally recognized government of Yemen, was held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

The United Nations told The Associated Press on Monday that it has finally reached its pledged goal of raising money to remove 1 million barrels of oil from the tanker, but it still needs to convince all donors to pay their pledges. First, $75 million for the operations phase.

Save the Children called on the international community to treat the tanker as an “international emergency”. It warned that rough winds and currents at sea in winter “can make oil transfer operations more dangerous and increase the risk of shipwrecks.”

It said dismantling the tanker would reveal “catastrophic humanitarian, environmental and economic consequences”. It said the livelihood of Yemen’s fishing community could be instantly wiped out if the tanker leaks or explodes.

The tanker is a Japanese-built vessel built in the 1970s and sold to the Yemeni government in the 1980s to store up to 3 million barrels of export oil pumped from fields in Marib, a province in eastern Yemen.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels control Yemen’s western Red Sea ports, including Ras Isa, just 6 kilometers (about 4 miles) from the safe haven, and the United Nations has been negotiating with the rebel group for years to try to get experts. doing Tanker to test it.

The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding in March, authorizing a four-month emergency operation to remove the immediate threat by transferring the oil to other vessels in safe tankers. In the longer term, the MOU calls for the replacement of the safe tanker with another vessel capable of holding the same amount of oil within 18 months.

The aging tanker is 360 meters (1,181 ft) long with 34 storage tanks. It contained four times the estimated volume of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill that devastated the Alaskan coast.

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