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Yemeni FM calls for faster salvage of derelict oil tanker


New York, Sep 23 : On the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, Yemen's Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak called for accelerating the UN-coordinated plan to prevent a massive oil spill in Red Sea from the derelict Safer oil tanker moored off the port of Hodeidah.

Mubarak made the appeal during a meeting on Thursday on the Safer tanker jointly organised by the US, the Netherlands, Germany and the UN, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Yemen government has made intense efforts since 2016 to avoid a potential disaster, he said, adding the government had held several meetings at the regional level, within the framework of the Arab League and with the nations bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The Minister noted that the Yemeni government had approved the implementation of the first phase of the emergency operation.

A day earlier, David Gressly, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said donors have pledged all $75 million required for the first phase of the UN plan -- an emergency operation to transfer oil from the decaying Safer tanker to a safe vessel.

The UN needs a further 38 million dollars for phase two.

The Safer, currently carrying more than 1 million barrels of oil, has been moored off the port of Hodeidah since 1988 as crude oil storage and offloading platform.

It has not been inspected or maintained since 2015.

In May 2020, seawater leaked into the engine room.

A temporary fix by divers from the Safer corporation succeeded in containing the leak, but the fix was not supposed to hold for long.