The Netherlands and the UK, in association with the UN, co-hosted an event on Thursday to raise funds for the salvage mission to remove about 1.1 million barrels of oil from the Safer, a decaying storage vessel currently moored off Yemen’s coast.
The conference of countries, firms, and international organizations could manage to raise over $7.5 million, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office reported.
The Safer has had little or no maintenance since the conflict in Yemen started in 2015, and relevant UN officials have long been warning of an ecological disaster for several years and a growing threat to nations on the coast of the Red Sea. If the Safer begins to leak or break up, it might spill four times as much oil as the terrifying Exxon Valdez disaster off Alaska in 1989.
The UN salvage mission is moving forward following lengthy negotiations with the Houthis based in Yemen, who have complete control of the area where the Safer is moored and is expected to cost $129 million. This includes the purchase in March of a huge tanker, dubbed the Nautica, to hold the oil taken off from the Safer. Due to the war in Ukraine, the vessels’ prices have steeply risen, and none were available for leasing. The Nautica departed from China for the Red Sea in early April.
Nearly $99 million has been raised from different governments via private donors and crowdfunding. The mission cannot be funded by oil sales as it is not yet clear who owns it, the UN explained.
On Thursday, the UN further said that it fell short of raising the money it needs; however, Farhan Haq, the spokesperson, said that it is urgent that this gap is closed to implement the operation successfully. While the UN appreciates the contributions received until now, they add that there is a need for funds to allow them to execute the task that they have started.
Liesje Schreinemacher, the Dutch minister in charge of foreign trade and development cooperation, said the international community has a unique chance to stave off the disaster. It is time to demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding the planet and its people.
The estimate is that a spill from the Safer may cost up to $20.1 billion to clean up, cause extreme damage to marine life present in the Red Sea, and exacerbate a dire humanitarian condition in Yemen, the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office informed. It would obstruct about 10% of global shipping, adding many billions to the costs per day.
References: LIvemint, AP News, Spectrum News, Arab News