KSrelief calls on international community to take immediate action on safer oil tanker issue

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Updated 15 September 2020

KSrelief calls on international community to take immediate action on safer oil tanker issue

  • KSRelief previously warned that the condition of the Safer oil tanker had reached a critical state of degradation
  • The statement went on to warn that the ship was at risk of exploding at any time due to the ongoing lack of maintenance

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief) has called on the United Nations and wider international community to take ‘urgent and immediate action’ to contain the risk of the explosion or sinking of the Safer oil tanker the charity said in a release issued Monday.

The tanker, which is anchored in the sea, close to Ras Isa Port in the Al Hudaydah Governorate of Yemen, is carrying more than a 1.5 million barrels of crude oil, and is at risk of creating a major oil spill in the Red Sea, the release stated, adding that such an event would cause a major environmental disaster in Yemen and other countries with Red Sea coastlines.

“Thus far, the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen who control the area where the tanker is located, have ignored all international pleas and warnings about the potentially catastrophic oil spill; they have repeatedly refused either to perform necessary maintenance on the tanker themselves or to allow a team of international experts to access it and take steps to avoid disaster,” the statement warned.

The statement follows previous warnings from KSrelief, who previously warned that the condition of the Safer oil tanker had reached a critical state of degradation, and that the situation was a threat to all Red Sea countries, particularly Yemen.

The statement went on to warn that the ship was at risk of exploding at any time due to the ongoing lack of maintenance since the Houthi coup.

“In addition to the real possibility of an imminent explosion, the overall deterioration of the tanker’s pipe system and other equipment and the disruption of its firefighting system make the condition of the tanker even more precarious, and more dangerous,” the statement added.

“The degradation of the tanker’s pipes and other infrastructure, if left unaddressed, will cause inert gases and crude oil to leak, spilling the huge cargo of crude oil directly into the Red Sea; from there, it will spread into the Bab al-Mandab Strait and into the Arabian Sea.”

Such a leak would not only cause large-scale destruction of the marine environment, but also result in the isolation of more than 115 Red Sea islands, and “such a catastrophic spill would also effectively end the ability of island residents to live and work there.”

The KSrelief statement said there was an urgent need for extensive maintenance of the tanker, and an immediate intervention to oblige the militia to allow UN technical teams to carry out this maintenance, and to enable technical and engineering teams to unload the crude oil as soon as possible and in an environmentally acceptable manner.

“KSrelief calls upon the international humanitarian community, including UN organizations and agencies, to take a stand against this serious environmental threat to Red Sea coastal populations in order to save lives and livelihoods,” the statement concluded, adding: “But also to avoid the potential disruption of aid delivery to Yemen by sea, which is an important method for getting aid to many parts of the country.”


W20 stresses importance of gender inclusivity across G20 groups

Updated 28 min 9 sec ago

W20 stresses importance of gender inclusivity across G20 groups

  • Women 20 (W20) meeting was hosted by Saudi Arabia as part of its G20 presidency

RIYADH: The second day of the virtual Women 20 (W20) meeting — hosted by Saudi Arabia as part of its G20 presidency — stressed the importance of ensuring inclusivity across the G20’s different working groups.

“The women’s empowerment team at the G20 Secretariat was established by the Saudi sherpa and… my team has engaged with working groups and discussed their topics, such as finance-track development, employment, health, education, agriculture, anti-corruption, energy, the digital economy, tourism, and trade and investments,” said Hala Altuwaijri, chair of the Women's Empowerment Team at the G20 Secretariat and secretary-general of the Family Affairs Council.

She added: “What we learned from previous presidencies is that we look at female empowerment as mainstream, as cross-cutting, and that it should not be the focus of one group only. In other words, every working group should have the empowerment of women as a priority... this is what the Saudi presidency has committed to.”

Addressing gender in the workplace, Libby Lyons, director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency in Australia, said that Australia will close the equality gap at all management levels within the next 20 years.

“Forty-three percent (of) all promotions went to women last year in the private sector in Australia. The problem persists, however, for women accessing leadership positions such as CEOs and board members,” she said in a session titled “G20 Policies: Catalyzing Women's Economic Empowerment.”

Lyons’ agency has been collecting data annually for more than seven years from every organization in the private sector with more than 100 employees, giving it a clear picture of what is happening in terms of gender equality. “We must collect standardized data to track what we are doing and assess our actions,” she noted.

She said that in Australia, private enterprise is driving this change, facilitated by the government, which is a unique model. “I think that it is a lesson we can all learn,” Lyons said.

Discussing the most notable G20 commitments over the last five years, Wendy Teleki, head of We-Fi Secretariat, said that We-Fi was founded in 2017 at the G20 Hamburg Summit focused on supporting entrepreneurs around the world.

Since then, it has allocated $300 million in funds through its partners to programs that are ultimately expected to benefit more than 130,000 women, she added.

This year, We-Fi has allocated an additional $50 million and Teleki said that another $50 million “will be allocated to the issues of technology, early-stage financing, and COVID-19 relief response to empower women entrepreneurs and help them in their reliance on technology.”

Addressing the private-sector alliance, empowerment and progression of women’s economic representation, which was established last year in Japan as a means to advocate the advancement of women in the private sector, Tomoko Hayashi, director-general of the Gender Equality Bureau in the Cabinet Office said: “The Empower project…aims to increase the number of women with access to leadership positions. Also it devises actionable plans to increase the digital literacy of women in developing countries.”

She added: “COVID-19 has greatly impacted women, including (by) increasing rates of unemployment and domestic violence. At the same time, it created a great opportunity for women to change the rules of the game.”