At least 8,000 people displaced in Yemen’s Marib Governorate due to escalating hostilities
Sana’a/New York: Troubles continue to shoot up in Yemen where on one hand Houthis continue to delay a UN rescue mission to visit the leaking Safer tanker stranded at Red Sea with 1.1 million barrels of oil onboard, on the other hand escalating hostilities resulted in displacement of at least 8,000 people in the war-torn Marib Governorate in recent weeks.
“By the grace of God, there has not been a major leak. The more we wait, the chances of a major leak are increasing. We’re… time is not on anyone’s side, and it’s not about us. It’s about the devastating environmental impact that it would have on the region,” Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, told journalists in New York last night (IST).
If there was a major leak, first of all, the ports around Hudaydah, which is a major lifeline for that area of Yemen in terms of importing food and commercial goods, would be closed.
“One can only imagine the devastating ecological impact it would have on the region and on countries surrounding Yemen on the… bordering the Red Sea, who rely and whose population rely on the Red Sea for fishing and for tourism,” Dujarric said.
With regard to ‘Safer’ tanker, the UN mission now encounters some new delays after recent additional requests from the Houthis, who also refer to themselves as Ansar Allah. These additional requests focus on logistics and security arrangements.
“We are determined to get this mission there as quickly as possible, but this… as we’ve said before, this is not a matter of just sending UN staff to an area. This is having to procure highly specific and technical equipment, including a tugboat and a barge and people with very, very pointed experience who are able and willing, a private sector company, to go on this first assessment mission,” Dujarric explained. He said the UN team was in constant dialogue with Houthis, the Ansar Allah, and trying to resolve the issues as quickly as possible – “We’re talking to them now to try to resolve these issues.” He though felt that given these developments, it was now difficult to say exactly when the mission could be deployed.
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It may be recalled that with about 1.1 million barrels of oil onboard the ship, a leak would have devastating ecological, humanitarian and economic consequences, not only for the people of Yemen, but for the entire region around the Red Sea.
The mission was expected to provide assessment of the requirements to formulate a permanent solution. However, it is already two years too late and cannot not be stalled any longer. However, following these additional requests from the Houthis, now many UN Security Council Member States, including donors to the project, are extremely concerned by these new delays.
Dujarric said: “Unfortunately, we can’t finalise mission preparations until all of the issues are resolved. We, of course, share those concerns. The UN remains eager to deploy the mission at the earliest possible opportunity. This mission is an important first step to avert an environmental and humanitarian disaster.”
To a specific question that in view of Houthis always “shifting the goalpost”, whether the UN Secretary-General ever considered any other type of way to get this mission executed, such as by Chapter 7 use of force in the Security Council, Dujarric said, “We want — and this not only applies to the tanker but to everything that is going on in Yemen — that all those who have power in Yemen put the interests of the Yemeni people first. This includes trying to fix the tanker. This includes stopping the fighting. This includes facilitating humanitarian access.”
In the meantime, amidst already high levels of displacement and humanitarian needs, at least 8,000 people have been displaced in Marib Governorate in Yemen in recent weeks due to the escalating hostilities. The vast majority of the displaced are women and children. Displacement to and within Marib accounted for two-thirds of all displacements in Yemen last year, and the United Nations and its humanitarian partners now warn that a worsening of the situation could quickly overwhelm existing capacities and force hundreds of thousands to flee.
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“The Yemen high-level pledging event on Monday is a crucial opportunity for the international community to support the humanitarian response and show solidarity with the people of Yemen. Almost $4 billion, or rather $3.85 billion, to be precise, is needed to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to 16 million people in Yemen in 2021,” the office of the UN Secretary-General stated in New York, while calling for an immediate de‑escalation of violence in Marib and the rest of the country.
There is an urgency to ensure achieving a political solution and a nationwide ceasefire as soon as possible in the country and for this the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy Martin Griffiths has been trying to encourage all parties in the country to redouble their efforts for achieving a solution the the crisis.
“We and our humanitarian partners are scaling up support and planning. Newly displaced households are receiving food, hygiene kits, health care and other assistance,”Dujarric said.
– global bihari bureau