Representatives of the Governments of the United States and the Netherlands have partnered to support the UN efforts to address and avert the economic, environmental, and humanitarian threats posed by the Safer oil tanker in the Red Sea region.
In April, U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking and Dutch Ambassador to Yemen Peter Derrek Hof joined UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly on a regional trip in the Gulf to increase awareness of the imminent risks the Safer poses to the entire region. The international community – private sector included – must take action now to address the imminent threats posed by the Safer.
Today, Dutch Ambassador to the United States André Haspels hosted a meeting joined by U.S. Special Envoy Lenderking, Yemeni Ambassador to the United States Mohammed al-Hadrami, and representatives from the diplomatic community in Washington, D.C. They stressed the importance of raising $144 million to fund the UN’s operational plan, which includes $80 million for an emergency operation to offload the oil from the Safer to a temporary vessel. At the pledging event co-hosted by the UN and the Netherlands last month, nearly half the funds required for the emergency operation were raised, but more is urgently needed to move forward.
The Safer is a rapidly decaying and unstable supertanker that contains four times the amount of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez. It could leak, spill, or explode at any time, severely disrupting shipping routes in the Gulf region and other industries across the Red Sea region, unleashing an environmental disaster, and worsening the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. By October, high winds and volatile currents will make the UN operation more dangerous and increase the risk of the ship breaking apart. In the event of a spill, the cleanup alone is expected to cost $20 billion.
We urge public and private donors to consider generous contributions to help prevent a leak, spill, or explosion, whose effects would destroy livelihoods, tourism, and commerce in one of the world’s vital shipping lanes.