NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia remains committed to improving the lives of Yemenis through UN mechanisms and agencies, said the Kingdom’s deputy permanent representative to the organization.
“Saudi Arabia has always supported the needy around the world, and therefore it reconfirms its commitment to stand by the Yemeni people (who are) currently living a major humanitarian crisis,” Dr. Khaled Manzlawiy said during a virtual UN ministerial meeting, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.
The Kingdom is the primary financial supporter of humanitarian response plans in Yemen. The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) recently signed three joint executive programs with the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
KSRelief has also signed a cooperation agreement with the UN Children’s Fund to implement various projects throughout the country, as an integral part of the UN 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen.
“To address the Yemeni crisis, the international community must acknowledge the roots of the problem that lie in the Houthis’ overthrow of the legitimate government in Yemen and prevention of access of humanitarian assistance to the country,” said Manzlawiy.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia warned the UN Security Council (UNSC) that an “oil spot” had been seen in a shipping transit area 31 miles (50 km) west of a decaying tanker that is threatening to spill 1.1 million barrels of crude oil off the coast of Yemen.
The Safer tanker has been stranded off Yemen’s Red Sea oil terminal of Ras Issa for more than five years.
The UN has warned that the Safer could spill four times as much oil as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off Alaska.
In a letter to the UNSC, Saudi Ambassador to the UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said experts had observed that “a pipeline attached to the vessel is suspected to have been separated from the stabilizers holding it to the bottom and is now floating on the surface of the sea.”
The UN has been waiting for formal authorization from Yemen’s Houthi movement to send a mission to the tanker to conduct a technical assessment and whatever initial repairs might be feasible.
The UNSC and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have both called on the Houthis to grant access.
Al-Mouallimi wrote that the tanker “has reached a critical state of degradation,” and that “the situation is a serious threat to all Red Sea countries, particularly Yemen and Saudi Arabia.” He added: “This dangerous situation must not be left unaddressed.”
Yemen has been mired in conflict since the Iran-backed Houthis ousted the internationally recognized government from the capital Sanaa in 2014. A Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in 2015 in a bid to restore the government.