Huge Tanker Departs On UN Mission To Prevent Catastrophic Oil Spill In The Red Sea

A massive crude carrier (VLCC) has set sail from Zhoushan in China. The mission is to remove over a million barrels of oil from the deteriorating FSO Safer tanker off the Red Sea coast of Yemen – an operation coordinated by the United Nations that can prevent a colossal humanitarian, environmental and economic disaster.

Tanker ship
Image for representation purpose only

The tanker was moored in drydock for routine maintenance and retrofitting when it was contracted for this mission by the UNDP. It’s expected to reach its destination in early May. The ageing vessel Safer has remained near Yemen’s Ras Isa peninsula since 1988 and could crumble or explode at any moment.

The UNDP, which is carrying out this mission as part of an UN-led initiative, has also called on SMIT – one of the world’s most prominent marine salvagers – to help get the job done safely by ship-to-ship transfers.

Achim Steiner – Administrator of UNDP – referred to the departure of VLCC as a significant step that marks the outcome of months of preparation and coordination between us and our sibling agencies, donors from governments, foundations and even school classes, in addition to international experts.

Steiner went on to express urgency in getting support from those with sufficient clout so this operation doesn’t derail in its crucial phase.

Despite receiving extensive international support, higher costs for VLCCs due to escalated prices in Ukraine have depleted much of the budget for this first phase. As of April 4th, only $95 million have been locked down out of the total $129 million required, leaving a funding gap of $34 million.

David Gressly – UN Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen – credited everyone who has made this plan happen: “UNDP, UNEP, IMO, OCHA and WFP together with Member States including private companies & public have all had their share in it.

Donors have been generous, but we are still missing $34 million more this month if we are to ensure success”. As such, he called on Member States & private entities as well as appealed through crowdfunding so individuals can chip in whatever they can sparingly afford towards reaching their target amount.

Reference: UNDP, United Nations

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