Oil tanker stranded off Yemen faces potential humanitarian disaster — Global issues

  • by Thalif Deen (United Nation)
  • Associated Press Service

Paul Horsman, head of the Greenpeace International Project, told IPS: “We are facing a major disaster.”

He argued it was unacceptable that UNDP, the United Nations agency responsible for facilitating Safer rescue operations, was creating delays through internal bureaucracy. Their actions, potentially adding to costs, jeopardize an agreement that has taken years of negotiation to reach and put the people of Yemen and the Red Sea at risk.

For over a year, people have been warned of the impending danger posed by Safer. He added that the solution was obvious, the technology and expertise was there, ready and possible, and there was money.

“If Safer leaks or, worse, explodes, UNDP will be held accountable. They should get out of the way and allow people who know what they’re doing to get on with the work,” Horsman declared.

When asked for answers, Russell Geekie, Senior Communications Advisor to the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, told IPS that under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator, UNDP did work with other specialized UN agencies and partners to expeditiously implement the UN-coordinated plan. plans to prevent a major oil spill from FSO Safer, off the Red Sea coast of Yemen.

He said the salvage operation will take place in the context of the crisis in Yemen which greatly complicates the preparation and implementation of the operation.

“The salvage operation can only begin when there is a suitable vessel to receive oil from FSO Safer.”

Currently, the main challenge for starting operations is the limitation on the number of vessels suitable for storing oil, he said. Prices on the global market for these vessels have risen sharply – largely due to the war in Ukraine.

“UNDP is working with a marine broker and other partners to find the most suitable solution, fast track processes wherever possible,” he added.

At a United Nations press conference last September, David Gressly, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, said long-delayed rescue operations could begin, when more than $75 million has been committed to significant performance.

Meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. co-organized by partners in the proposed rescue effort, namely the Netherlands, the United States and Germany.

Gressly said that once the commitments are fully cashed for the initial salvage operation, with more than $77 million promised from 17 countries, an additional $38 million is still needed for the second phase. – install safe replacement capacity to guarantee one million barrels. oil on board.

Gressly said the UN’s plan is to do this through transferring the oil to a safe two-hull vessel, as a long-term storage solution, until the political situation allows for sale or shipping. oil elsewhere, Gressly said.

But Greenpeace International remains skeptical because it believes the FSO Safer issue should have been handled months ago, before the weather conditions worsened.

Last fall, everything seemed ready for the salvage operation, and Smit BoskalisOne of the world’s most experienced rescue companies, Greenpeace said, is ready to launch the operation.

“But this momentum seems to have stopped as UNDP, who is supposed to coordinate the operation, is creating more severe and costly delays through their internal bureaucratic processes.”

Greenpeace said it has been campaigning for more than two years for the United Nations to make FSOs safer and avoid a serious oil spill in the region.

“We understand that the UN FINALLY has the money, but UNDP (who is supposed to be coordinating the multi-donor effort but has no oil/transportation expertise) is running the important processes. Internal documentation is creating serious delays and more costs due to rising costs on a daily basis,” Greenpeace said.

According to the United Nations, there is growing concern that unless the ship is secured, it could break apart causing serious oil spills and other environmental damage, which the United Nations estimates will result. spend at least 20 billion dollars just to clean up, as well as destroy fragile creatures. Yemen’s economy was ravaged by war – causing a humanitarian catastrophe.

Geekie says sponsors have generously sent $73.4 million to the project, with another $10 million pledged. While preparations have begun, additional funding is still needed to fully implement the operation, with support from both the Yemeni Government in Aden and the Sana’a government.

Ensuring the right team of professionals is in place is crucial to the success of the operation.

He said UNDP has hired all the services of relevant experts and operational partners including a leading marine management consulting firm, a salvage operations company, an environmental shipping industry, a maritime law firm, an insurance brokerage, and oil spill experts to develop an oil spill response plan. support this important mission.

Other UN agencies are also providing technical assistance for this activity.

He stated that in light of the high potential environmental and humanitarian risks, the United Nations, including UNDP, are making every effort to address the challenges facing off the coast of Yemen and are addressing the situation. this situation with the highest degree of urgency.

Report of the UN IPS Office

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© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service


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