Wed, 25 May 2022

SANAA, May 12 (Xinhua) -- International donors have pledged 33 million U.S. dollars to prevent a major oil spill from a decaying tanker anchored off Yemen's western coast, the United Nations said Thursday.

The commitments were announced at a pledging conference in The Hague co-hosted by the United Nations and the Dutch government on Wednesday on helping offload the FSO Safer tanker near Yemen's Red Sea port of Hodeidah, according to a UN statement.

The United Nations has coordinated a plan to put a vessel in place within 18 months, then transfer the oil from FSO Safer to the safe temporary vessel in four months, requiring 144 million dollars funds in total.

"Some 40 million dollars is now available for the UN-coordinated plan, which is supported by the parties to the conflict in Yemen and key stakeholders," it noted.

As a floating storage and offloading facility, the tanker has been anchored off Yemen's Red Sea coast for more than 30 years but began to be left neglected when a civil war broke out between the Yemeni government and Houthi militia about seven years ago.

It is now at the "imminent risk" of major spill either from leaking, breaking apart or exploding, the United Nations warned.

The tanker carries more than 1.14 million barrels of oil, about four times the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez that caused one of the greatest environmental disasters in the U.S. history.

The United Nations has tried to send inspectors to assess the tanker's condition or study ways to offload it, but the Houthis have denied the UN personnel access to the tanker, citing security reasons.

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