UN official warns of humanitarian consequences of spill from oil tanker off Yemen

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 16, 2020
Adjust font size:

UNITED NATIONS, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The UN humanitarian chief warned on Wednesday of severe consequences of a possible spill from a derelict oil tanker moored off the coast of Yemen.

If a spill from Safer, the oil tanker, were to occur in the next two months, experts project that 1.6 million Yemenis would be directly affected, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock told the Security Council.

Essentially every fishing community along Yemen's west coast would see their livelihoods collapse and would suffer substantial economic losses. About 90 percent of people in these communities already need humanitarian assistance, he said.

Sea currents and seasonal conditions also mean much of the oil would likely remain near Yemen's coast rather than dispersing widely. As a result, the port in Hodeidah, a lifeline for Yemenis, could be forced to close for a period of weeks or even months, said Lowcock.

"As you know, Yemen imports nearly everything, and most imports come through Hodeidah or the port at nearby Salif. Losing either of these ports for an extended period would destabilize critical commercial and aid imports of food and other essential commodities."

The disruption of imports has the potential to inflict terrible additional suffering on millions of Yemenis, he warned.

This would also deliver another severe blow to Yemen's already embattled economy. The resulting disruption would substantially accelerate recent trends that are already pushing the country toward famine, he said.

International maritime routes and neighboring states would also be affected by a spill, said Lowcock.

"So I want to be clear that the risk from the Safer is by no means strictly environmental -- dreadful though the environmental impact would be. It is also a direct and severe threat to the well-being, and potentially the survival, of millions of Yemenis."

The tanker had served as a floating oil storage and offloading vessel moored in the Red Sea before most of the crew deserted it after Houthi rebels took over the area about five years ago.

On May 27, 2020, seawater began leaking into the Safer engine room. Fortunately, the engine room leak was relatively small, and divers from the Safer corporation were able to contain it. But the fix they applied is only temporary, and it is impossible to say how long it might hold, said Lowcock.

The Security Council held a meeting on Wednesday to look into the issue after the Houthi rebels approved a UN-led technical assessment and repair mission onboard the oil tanker, which is carrying 1.1 million barrels of crude oil. Enditem

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter