The UN is disappointed that Yemen’s Houthi rebels are delaying a repair mission for a decaying oil tanker, which could spill its million-barrel load into the Red Sea.
ore specifically, sources report that UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric informed that talks with the Iran-backed Houthis have failed to approve the mission to reach the stranded FSO Safer and repair its leaky hull.
As Mr. Dujarric explained,the Houthis were “not ready to provide the assurances we need to deploy a UN mission to the Safer tanker.”
Namely, the UN wants engineers to inspect the vessel and conduct repairs, but the Houthis have not fully endorsed the mission.
The vessel has been stranded eight kilometres south-west of the Ras Isa oil terminal, 60km north of the Houthi-held port of Hodeidah, since 2015. According to experts, the ship could rupture at any time, thus risking the release if 1.1 million barrels of oil into the sea.
As for the UN, it has repeatedly asked the Houthis to allow them to stop a maritime disaster, with Houthi officials approving a mission in 2020, but then backtracking.
If a spill was to happen, it would damage tourism, fishing and desalination plants across Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti, while it would also hurt a shipping lane that enables as much as 10% of global trade.