Fri, 02 Jun 2023

ADEN, Yemen, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Yemeni foreign minister on Thursday called for accelerating the UN-coordinated plan to prevent a massive oil spill in the Red Sea from the Safer oil tanker off Yemen, state-run Saba news agency reported.

Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak made the appeal during a meeting on the Safer tanker held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, which was jointly organized by the United States, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Nations.

The Yemeni government has made intense efforts since 2016 to avoid a potential disaster, he said, adding the government had held several meetings at the regional level, within the framework of the Arab League and with the nations bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Bin Mubarak noted that the Yemeni government had approved the implementation of the first phase of the emergency operation.

A day earlier, David Gressly, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said donors have pledged all 75 million U.S. dollars required for the first phase of the UN plan -- an emergency operation to transfer oil from the decaying Safer tanker to a safe vessel.

The United Nations needs a further 38 million dollars for phase two.

The Safer, currently carrying more than 1 million barrels of oil, has been moored off the port of Hodeidah since 1988 as crude oil storage and offloading platform. It 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.

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