UN launches crowdfunding campaign to head off decaying oil tanker threat

by IANS |

United Nastions, June 14 (IANS) The UN has launched a crowdfunding campaign that aims to bring the world closer to prevent a decaying supertanker, anchored off Yemen's Red Sea port of Hodeidah, from causing an oil spill that could spell disaster for the region and beyond.

On Monday UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, David Gressly, launched the crowdfunding campaign, which encourages people everywhere to contribute towards raising $5 million in individual donations by the end of this month so that work can start in July, the UN said in a statement.

The transfer operation is part of a two-track plan, with an overall cost of $144 million, which also involves installing a replacement vessel for the floating storage and offloading (FSO) Safer oil tanker.

Some three-quarters of the money required has been received, following the announcement of a $10 million pledge by Saudi Arabia this week.

The US is also working towards a $10 million contribution, the UN said.

A May 11 pledging conference, co-hosted by the Netherlands and the US, raised around $40 million of the required funds.

The decaying, dilapidated supertanker has been described as a "floating time-bomb" that risks causing an explosion or an oil spill four times as disastrous as the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident in the Red Sea.

It contains more than a million barrels of oil.

As flammable gasses continue to build up in the ship's chambers and its structural integrity deteriorates, efforts to take it off the water are becoming increasingly urgent, according to the UN.

The Safer has been moored in the Red Sea since 1988.

The Houthis have been blockading UN efforts to inspect and maintain the vessel after the war between the group and the Yemeni government began in 2014.

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