Urgent work to prevent massive Red Sea oil spill disaster postponed yet again due to UN negligence

Urgent work to prevent massive Red Sea oil spill disaster postponed yet again due to UN negligence

The official committee responsible for facilitating UN efforts to execute a comprehensive evaluation of the floating oil tanker Safer, has announced that the United Nations has failed to expedite the implementation of the agreement.

The discussions reached a dead end after the UN overturned most of the terms of an agreement signed by them and the National Salvation Government.

In this context, the Supervisory Committee expressed its deep regret at the UN’s retreat from the maintenance agreement that was signed last November.

The committee explained that it held two meetings, last Thursday and Friday, and a third meeting today with the United Nations Office for Project Services, to discuss the work plan presented by the United Nations.

However, the committee was surprised that the plan presented by the UN side excluded most of the agreed upon urgent maintenance work, and only kept the evaluation work in the text, on the pretext that “time and funding are not sufficient to carry out the agreed maintenance work.”

“The representatives of the United Nations confirmed, during the third meeting on Tuesday, that they want to focus only on the evaluation work, refusing at the same time to provide us with an official memorandum of this. They acknowledged that they are violating the [previous] agreement, under the pretext that they are the party authorized to amend and act on the agreement,” the Yemeni committee added.

The interventions of experts hired by the UN showed that the United Nations did not contract them for all the work stipulated in the agreement, including the purchase of tools and equipment needed for maintenance.

It indicating that the United Nations has spent funds allocated for maintenance and evaluation only on on the operational expenditures of its team.

The UN has also deliberately prolonged the discussions in order to exhaust the budget allocated for the implementation of the agreement in operational and consulting expenditures. It has excluded any maintenance work and reduced the evaluation work agreed upon in the Urgent Maintenance Agreement and the comprehensive evaluation of the Safer floating tank.

The Yemeni Supervisory Committee stated that it considered the international retreat as a setback for the strenuous efforts made during the past months, and deepens fears of an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.

It called on the United Nations to abide by the agreement that was signed by it and the National Salvation Government, and said it will hold the United Nations fully responsible for any repercussions of this unfortunate retreat. It also indicated that discussions with the international side are still continuing.

The FSO Safer is a massive floating petroleum storage unit that contains an estimated 1.14 million barrels of oil. The Saudi blockade of Yemen and the total lack of international support means that the tanker has been almost entirely lacking in necessary maintenance work since the beginning of the Saudi-led invasion in 2015. Experts believe that, if an oil leak were to occur in the Safer, this could cause an environmental disaster four times as devastating as the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

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