New York/Washington: As a big relief from what appeared to be an impending “monumental” environmental, economic and humanitarian catastrophe, a United Nations-led team today successfully concluded its mission to remove oil to a Yemen replacement vessel from a decaying 47-year-old oil supertanker, FSO Safer, which is moored off Yemen’s Red Sea coast.
The Safer was at risk of an oil spill four times the size of the Exxon Valdez disaster. Such a spill would have cost tens of billions of dollars to clean up.
The news that the UN completed the complex maritime operation in the Red Sea to safely offload the entirety of the oil onboard the FSO Safer, is being cheered across the globe. Welcoming the news, UN Secretary-General António Guterres reaffirmed the United Nations’ commitment to successfully complete this project, including through the delivery of a specialized buoy to which the replacement vessel will be safely and securely tethered.
Guterres expressed his gratitude to the Yemeni authorities whose support was critical to its success. “Additional funding will be needed to finish the project and remove any remaining environmental threat to the Red Sea,” he said and urged donors to contribute funds “at this crucial time to conclude this operation”.
The Secretary-General thanked the many countries, corporate and philanthropic donors as well as ordinary citizens who contributed funding for the project.
In Washington, Antony J. Blinken, United States Secretary of State while welcoming the news said a broad international coalition banded together – with strong, early U.S. leadership – to tackle this problem. “I want to thank UN Resident Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly, who spearheaded the project, the United Nations Development Programme, and other international partners who donated to this important effort. The United States, and specifically U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Timothy Lenderking, has been a leader on the project, working tirelessly to ensure its progression,” Blinken said.
While the immediate crisis has been averted, the full operation, including safe removal of the Safer, is not yet finished. Blinken noted that the UN urgently needs the international community and private sector’s financial support to fill the remaining $22 million funding gap needed to finish the job and address all remaining environmental threats.
“This operation serves as a strong model for future international coordination and cooperation to proactively prevent crises before they occur. We commend the UN and the Yemeni parties who came together to avert an environmental, economic, and humanitarian disaster,” Blinken said.
– global bihari bureau