The charity is urging donor support to avert Yemen’s oil spill

CAIRO (AP) — An international charity on Wednesday urged global donors to redeem their pledges to remove oil from a long-stranded and rusting supertanker off Yemen to avert an explosion or leak that could lead to an environmental and economic disaster.

Save the Children’s call comes as the Netherlands, the US and Germany are set to announce on Wednesday “the successful funding of the emergency operation” to neutralize the threat posed by the oil tanker FSO Safer. The event, which is also attended by the internationally recognized government of the United Nations and Yemen, takes place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

The United Nations told The Associated Press on Monday that it has finally met its pledge goal of raising money to remove 1 million barrels of oil from the tanker, but it has yet to convince all donors to honor the pledges for the first $75 million phase of the operation.

Save the Children called on the international community to treat the tanker as an “international emergency”. It warned that turbulent winds and currents at sea in winter are likely to “make the oil transfer operation more dangerous and increase the risk of ship wrecking”.

It said breaking up the tanker would have “catastrophic humanitarian, environmental and economic consequences.” It said the livelihoods of Yemen’s fishing communities could be instantly destroyed if the tanker leaked or exploded.

The tanker is a Japanese-made vessel built in the 1970s and sold to the Yemeni government in the 1980s to store up to 3 million barrels of export oil harvested from fields in Marib, a province in eastern Yemen, was pumped.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels control Yemen’s western Red Sea ports, including Ras Issa, just 6 kilometers (about 4 miles) from the Safer dock, and the UN has been negotiating with the rebel group for years to try , Experts call in the tanker to examine it.

Both sides signed a memorandum of understanding in March authorizing a four-month emergency operation to eliminate the immediate threat by transferring oil from the safer tanker to another ship. In the longer term, the MOU calls for the safer tanker to be replaced within 18 months with another vessel capable of holding a similar amount of oil.

The aging tanker is 360 meters long and has 34 storage tanks. It contains about four times the estimated amount of oil released in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster that devastated the Alaskan coast.

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