DUBAI: Yemen’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Hadhrami blamed the Houthi militia for the Safer oil tanker’s looming disaster as the militia continued to block the United Nation’s help to access the damage.
Al-Hadhrami stressed the importance of pressuring the Houthis to allow technicians from the international organization to access the tanker during a meeting with senior British diplomats on Thursday, state news agency Saba New reported.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia warned the UN Security Council that an “oil spot” has been sighted in a shipping lane 50 km west of abandoned and decaying Safer oil tanker off the coast of Yemen. Experts fear it could spill 1.1 million barrels of crude into the Red Sea.
The tanker has been moored near Ras Issa oil terminal for more than five years. The UN previously warned that it could leak four times as much oil as was spilled during the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off the coast of Alaska. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council have repeatedly called on Houthi insurgents in Yemen to grant access the tanker for a technical assessment and emergency repairs.
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said last week that a new UN proposal to assess and carry out initial repairs on the Safer oil tanker was being discussed with the Houthis. “We hope the new proposal will be quickly approved so the work can start,” he said.
Meanwhile President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Thursday urged Houthis to stop impeding the flow of urgently needed humanitarian aid following a warning from the UN humanitarian chief last week that “the specter of famine” has returned to the conflict-torn country.
His plea came in a pre-recorded speech to the UN General Assembly’s ministerial meeting being held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are trying to save our country and establish a just and lasting peace,” Hadi said, blaming Iran for meddling in his nation.
“The objective is to stop the bloodletting in Yemen,” he said.
Lowcock told the UN Security Council last week that famine in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, was averted two years ago because donors swiftly met 90 percent of the UN’s funding requirements. But the UN’s latest figures show that the current $3.4 billion appeal is less than 38 percent funded.