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UN buys vessel to remove oil from stricken Yemen tanker

March 14, 2023 at 11:39 am

The UN has purchased a large vessel to remove oil from a decaying tanker on the coast of Yemen [@UNDP/Twitter]

The UN has purchased a large vessel to remove oil from a decaying tanker on the coast of Yemen, in order to prevent a major oil spill. The abandoned FSO Safer tanker had been moored off the coast for more than 30 years.

An announcement was made by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on Thursday, after it had signed an agreement with international shipping company Euronav as part of a $144 million UN-led effort to avert the potential environmental and humanitarian threat, which would exacerbate the already severe humanitarian situation in the war-torn country. According to the agency, the replacement vessel is expected to arrive in early May.

“The purchase of this suitable vessel by UNDP marks the beginning of the operational phase of the UN-coordinated plan to safely remove the oil from the Safer and avoid the risk of an environmental and humanitarian disaster on a massive scale. We must accept that this is a very challenging and complex operation,” said agency chief Achim Steiner.

David Gressly, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, was quoted as saying: “Now we are into the operational phase and hopeful the oil will be removed from the Safer within the next three to four months. But we still urgently need funding to implement the plan and prevent disaster.”

Both sides of the warring factions – the Saudi-led coalition, including the internationally-recognised Yemeni government, and the Houthi-led government based in Sanaa – have accused the other of preventing efforts to address the stricken tanker issue.

READ: Time is running out to stop oil tanker damaging the lives of millions in Yemen, charity warns