Money pledged to prevent Red Sea eco-disaster by tanker a 'strong start': UN

by IANS |

United Nations, May 12 (IANS) The UN believes the $33 million pledged for the $144 million plan to prevent a Red Sea eco-disaster from a derelict tanker is a good start, a spokesman said.

"We will need more money in May. But we believe that this is a strong start to the push that we need for urgent funding, and we will be seeking more money," said Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

"We were seeking basically $84 million or so for the four months of work that we need."

That would be for the emergency work to prevent the rusting floating storage tanker 'Safer', carrying more than one million barrels of oil from leaking, breaking up or even exploding, causing an ecological disaster for the Red Sea shoreline. A long-term solution will need additional funds to acquire another vessel for the cargo.

Following the Netherlands and the UN co-hosting a pledging conference in The Hague, the UN announced donors pledged $33 million for the global agency's coordinated plan to address the threat posed by Safer anchored off the port of Hodeidah, Yemen.

Haq told reporters that the world body already had previously committed funds of about $40 million on hand for the emergency work that needs to happen, Xinhua news agency reported.

Asked about criticism by the rebel Houthi militia that the UN plan was not enough, the spokesman said, "We believe we have a workable plan that has been agreed to with all the participants, and we're proceeding on the basis of the understandings that we have reached."

The Houthis, who control the Hodeidah area, endorsed the agreement earlier.

Haq added that the UN was trying to get the oil offloaded into another facility as it believes that it is urgent to do that before the tanker breaks up.

The planned operation comprises installing a replacement vessel or obtaining equivalent capacity and the emergency operation to transfer the oil to a safe temporary vessel, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a release.

The plan would cover the salaries of a crew to maintain the leased temporary vessel until the completion of the long-term solution.

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