News   /   Yemen

Yemen’s Houthis agree to give UN access to stranded oil tanker: Sources

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows the Safer oil tanker.

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has agreed to provide the United Nations with access to an abandoned oil tanker that risks causing environmental disaster off the western coast of the country.

Two unnamed UN sources, familiar with the matter, announced the news in interviews with Reuters on Sunday, a few days after the world body said it had become extremely concerned after water entered the engine room of the Safer tanker.

For over five years the Ill-fated vessel, which carries 1.1 million barrels of crude oil, has been marooned several kilometers outside the Red Sea oil terminal of Ras Issa, north of the major port city of Hudaydah. 

The vital terminal was used for exporting Ma’rib’s light crude oil before a Saudi-led military coalition laid a crippling and simultaneous aerial, naval, and land blockade on Yemen.

The sources further told Reuters that Houthis, who control the port, had sent a letter approving the deployment of a UN technical team to the stranded tanker, which is said to contain 34 crude oil tanks of different sizes and volumes, amounting to a total capacity of about 3 million barrels. 

In June last year, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock told the UN Security Council that a leak or explosion of the vessel could be much worse than the Exxon Valdez oil spill of the late 1980s in Alaska.

“If the tanker ruptures or explodes, we could see the coastline polluted all along the Red Sea,” Lowcock, the under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said at the time.

“Depending on the time of year and water currents, the spill could reach from Bab el-Mandeb to the Suez Canal, and potentially as far as the Strait of Hormuz,” he added.

The UNSC is scheduled to hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the Safer tanker issue.

A Saudi-led coalition comprised of a number of allies invaded Yemen in March 2015 to restore power to its former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush Ansarullah, whose fighters have been of significant help to the Yemeni army in defending the country against the invaders.

The ongoing war has so far killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and pushed the entire country close to the brink of famine.

Last month, a report said 22 Yemen-bound oil tankers, which have been illegally impounded, are still held by the coalition that continues preventing them from reaching the port of Hudaydah.

These ships, whose impounding period ranged from 50 to 98 days, carry over 144,000 tons of diesel, over 263,000 tons of gasoline, over 29,000 tons of gas and more than 100,000 tons of fuel oil.

The Saudi war and the tight blockade against Yemen, particularly on Hudaydah, which acts as a lifeline for the impoverished nation, have left the country highly vulnerable against the COVID-19 pandemic, which is raging across the world.

The imposed war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger as the invaders keep obstructing inflow of direly-need supplies.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku