New York (UNA-OIC) – United Nations Secretary General António Guterres expressed deep concern about the condition of the 46-year-old FSO Safer oil tanker, moored off the western coast of Yemen.
The aging tanker has had almost no maintenance since the civil conflict in Yemen intensified in 2015 and risks causing a major oil spill, explosion or fire, that would have catastrophic environmental and humanitarian consequences for Yemen and the region.
In a statement attributed to his spokesman, the UN chief maintained that the potential oil slick in the Red Sea would not only “severely harm Red Sea ecosystems relied on by 30 million people across the region”, but would also force the Hudaydah port to close for months – further exacerbating Yemen’s already severe economic crisis and “cut off millions of people from access to food and other essential commodities”.
“The Secretary-General urges the removal of any obstacles to the efforts needed to mitigate the dangers posed by the Safer tanker without delay,” said UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.
The Secretary General specifically called for granting independent technical experts “unconditional access to the tanker to assess its condition and conduct any possible initial repairs”, Dujarric added, spelling out that “The assessment will provide crucial scientific evidence for the next steps to be taken in order to avert catastrophe.”