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Yemen: Increasing warnings of environmental disaster in the Red Sea near Al-Hudaydah

July 30, 2019 at 2:32 am

An oil tanker, 19 July 2019 [US Navy / Wikipedia]

There are growing warnings of a potential environmental disaster as a result of an oil spill from a floating tank in the Red Sea. The Government of Yemen government and the Houthi group have been reciprocally accusing each other in this regard.

Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi has warned of a possible environmental disaster in the Red Sea because the Houthis have prevented a UN technical team from accessing the Tanker.

“The “Safar” tanker is worn out, and its explosion or the leakage of its loads will result in one of the most significant oil leaks in history,” said the Information Minister of Hadi’s government, Muammar Mutaher Al-Eryani, in a series of tweets.
He said that environmental disaster will affect marine life in the Red Sea and maritime traffic in the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb and the Suez Canal, which are two of essential waterways in the world.

The minister called on the world to stop the persistent intransigence of the Houthi group that prevents the United Nations team from maintaining the tanker.

Al-Eryani revealed that the Houthis demand the tanker’s revenues – estimated at $80 million. He also warned of an environmental disaster that could spread to Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Sudan, and Egypt.

Read: Yemen urges oil companies to restart production

In contrast, the leader of the Houthi group, Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, held Hadi’s government, the Arab Coalition, and the United Nations responsible for the environmental disaster that may be caused by the oil spill from the Safar oil tanker.

The leader, who is a member of the Supreme Political Council of the Houthis authority in Sana’a, said via Twitter that his group “is not preventing the tanker’s maintenance” and is constantly asking the United Nations to intervene.

He wondered about the reason for which the Arab Coalition and the United Nations refused to sell the oil in “Safar” tanker and distribute the value to salaries of Yemeni employees who do not receive their wages, saying the rejection is “unreasonable and inhumane.”

Last week, UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator Mark Lowcock informed the UN Security Council about the Houthis’ continuation of hindering the access of the risk assessment team to the floating “Safer” oil tanker, which has been filled with crude oil four years ago, opposite to the Ras Isa oil port in Al-Hudaydah Governorate, although they requested assistance from the United Nations and pledged to facilitate the work.

The Houthi group has been controlling the Ras Issa oil port and the ports of Al-Hudaydah and Salif in Al-Hudaydah Governorate in the Red Sea.