Riyadh: Saudi Arabia promised $ 10 million on Sunday to prevent a dilapidated Yemeni oil tanker from unleashing a potentially catastrophic spill in the adjacent Red Sea. A corrupt 45-year-old oil tanker known as the FSO Safer was used as a floating storage platform for a long time and was abandoned from the rebel-owned port of Yemen in Hodeida, but Yemen entered the civil war. It has not been maintained since then.
In 2015, a Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen after the Houthi rebels occupied the capital, Sana’a, last year. Tankers, located about 150 kilometers south of the Saudi Arabian border, are at risk of “imminent” collapse, the United Nations warned last month. According to the United Nations, Safer contains four times the amount of oil spilled by the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, one of the worst environmental disasters in the world.
Last week, Greenpeace, an environmental campaign group, called on the Arab League to raise money for an operation to transfer 1.1 million barrels of oil to another vessel. Last month’s UN Pledges far fell short of the $ 80 million target, bringing just $ 33 million. Environmentalists warn that the cost of surgery is small compared to the estimated $ 20 billion it would cost to clean up the spill.
The United Nations states that oil spills could destroy ecosystems, close fishing and close the port of Hudaydah in lifelines for six months. It is necessary to complete the operation by the end of September in order to avoid the “turbulent wind” that occurs within the year. According to the official Saudi Arabian press, Riyadh will donate $ 10 million to this initiative through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.
“The Kingdom calls on the United Nations to take swift steps to ensure the prevention of oil leaks, and the international community to support this initiative and make an urgent contribution to prevent serious environmental disasters. I ask for it, “said the agency. According to the Military Balance + database created by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Saudi Arabia’s current defense spending is $ 36.8 billion annually. – AFP