Time is running out to avoid an environmental disaster that will expose millions of people in Yemen to hazardous substances, Save the Children has warned, calling on the international community to release funds to stop a rusting supertanker from spilling into the Red Sea.
The 45-year-old FSO Safer, carrying 1.1 million barrels of oil, is moored six miles off the coast of the Houthi-held Yemeni city of Hudaydah.
Save the Children warned in a press release today that as the winter months near, the tanker is at great risk of spilling. "By October, it's predicted that high winds and volatile currents make the oil transfer operation more dangerous and increase the risk of the ship breaking up, unleashing disastrous humanitarian, environmental, and economic consequences for millions of children in an already devastated region," it said.
Saudi Arabia pledges $10m to avert oil spillage from abandoned oil tanker off Yemen coast
On Monday the UN announced it had finally reached its pledging goal to raise money to remove the oil from the supertanker, however "donors are yet to pay up on pledges for the first phase of the emergency removal operation to begin", the charity added.
"The sea of Yemen will be destroyed if the Safer tanker leaked. Fish will die, the livelihoods of the entire population in Hudaydah will be devastated, water desalination plants will be damaged, everything will be impacted. It will be a major disaster, and it will ruin everything, the sea and the land," said 55-year-old fisherman Kusai.
Save the Children warned that "any potential spill could also suspend activities at Hodeidah port, the main point of aid entry for Yemen, denying millions of children from access to lifesaving assistance and crippling the humanitarian response in the most vulnerable regions of the country."