UN Security Council calls for donations for Yemen oil tanker rescue

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Members of the Security Council on Monday made an unusual plea to help avoid a "catastrophic ecological, maritime, and humanitarian risk posed by the Safer tanker" off Yemen.

In a press statement, the council members reiterated their deep concern about the threat posed by the derelict oil storage tanker anchored off the port of Hodeidah and commended pledges for a UN emergency operation for the tanker.

They called for disbursal of the pledges and on other UN members and private-sector donors to fund the plan "in order to prevent a humanitarian, environmental, maritime, and economic catastrophe."

The council members underlined their expectation that the United Nations be ready, on day one of reaching the funding target, to begin immediately the oil transfer operation.

The United Nations has received pledges for 64 million U.S. dollars of the 80 million dollars sought for the first-phase emergency operation to defuse the "floating timebomb."

The derelict oil tanker, currently carrying more than 1 million barrels of oil, has not been inspected or maintained since 2015. In May 2020, seawater leaked into the engine room. A temporary fix by divers from the Safer corporation succeeded in containing the leak. But the fix was not supposed to hold for long.

In the press statement, the council members also lauded the benefits of the temporary truce in Yemen, saying it resulted in a 60 percent reduction in casualties, a quadrupling of fuel through Hodeidah port and allowed commercial flights to resume from the capital Sanaa permitting Yemenis to seek advanced medical help abroad.

They called on the Yemeni government and the Houthi militia to urgently intensify and be flexible in negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations to agree on "an expanded truce that could be translated into a durable cease-fire."

They urged both parties to intensify engagement with UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg on all aspects of negotiations, eschew conditionality, and ensure their economic experts work closely with the United Nations to implement measures to tackle the economic and financial crises.

The council members condemned all attacks that threatened to derail the truce and reiterated that there is no military solution. They called for an end to all forms of visible military manifestations in violation of the Hodeidah Agreement.

The council members highlighted Yemen's humanitarian crisis and the continued risk of famine, and encouraged donors to fully fund the UN humanitarian response plan and support the Yemeni government's efforts to stabilize the economy.

The press statement came after Thursday's Security Council consultations on Yemen.

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