SANA'A

- There are renewed risks regarding the Yemeni oil tanker "Safer", which has docked off the western coast of Yemen in the Red Sea since 2015, loaded with more than one million barrels of crude oil, amid fears of an oil spill due to damage to parts of the tanker for lack of maintenance due to the war, which may affect over the lives of more than 1.6 million Yemenis.

The United Nations has recently intensified its efforts with the warring parties in Yemen to avoid the occurrence of the largest environmental disaster in the world, according to specialists.

The tanker is located 60 kilometers north of the city of Hodeidah, and carries 4 times the amount of oil that was leaked from the tanker "Exxon Valdez" in 1989 and caused an environmental disaster, according to United Nations information.

According to the Office of the Resident Coordinator and the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, David Grisley, the coordinator held recent meetings with the government in Aden and the authorities in Sanaa to mitigate the threat posed by the floating storage and unloading unit "Safer", and that the two sides expressed their desire to confront this disaster.

The office told Al Jazeera Net that the Yemeni government supports the coordinator's proposal to transfer one million barrels of oil on board the Safer ship to another ship, and that the Sana'a authorities have expressed concern about the environmental and humanitarian risks posed by the tanker and their desire to see a quick move to solve the problem.

He added that the risk of an imminent disaster was very real, and "we need to translate the goodwill shown by the parties into action as soon as possible."

Image showing damage to parts of the tanker (green dream site)

Fears of serious consequences

The Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations says that the reservoir is witnessing a state of deterioration in its structure, equipment and operating systems, which makes it vulnerable to oil spills, explosions or fires, and thus will lead to catastrophic environmental and humanitarian consequences for Yemen and the countries bordering it, he said.

The office of the International Envoy added to Al Jazeera Net, that the recent intensive efforts came after sea water leaked into the Safer engine room on May 27, threatening the sinking of the tank and the leakage of its oil cargo in the Red Sea, and the leak was contained at that time through a temporary repair, but it This solution is not likely to hold for a long time, which underscores the urgent need to take urgent measures to prevent a catastrophe.

In previous statements, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the occurrence of the oil spill would affect the lives of 1.6 million Yemenis, as it would damage fisheries along the western coast of Yemen, which would lead to the collapse of the livelihoods of fishing communities, and likely that the oil spill would also lead to the closure of a port. Hodeidah main center for a period of up to 6 months, which could lead to a 200% increase in fuel prices in Yemen, and double food prices.

In the same context, the head of the Green Dream Environmental Foundation, journalist Muhammad al-Hakimi, says that the imminent oil spill will cause a new major crisis within the current Yemeni crisis, as it will produce environmental, economic, health and humanitarian impacts that affect millions of Yemenis, especially the vulnerable groups in coastal communities that depend mainly on fishing and agriculture.

The potential leak from the SAFER is 4 times higher than the disaster that occurred in 1989 from the tanker Exxon Valdez (French)

Risks in numbers

Al-Hakimi added to Al Jazeera Net that the leak will completely destroy the marine and coastal environment, as it will extend from the coasts of the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Sea, and Yemen will lose all its natural capabilities, not to mention - and talk to Al-Hakimi - about the pollution of its coasts with heavy crude oil spots that prevent the access of oxygen and the sun to the depths of the sea And thus the death of marine organisms, especially coral reefs, which exceed 300 species, as well as the fish stock of Yemen, estimated at more than 850 thousand tons per year.

Al-Hakimi believes that the impact of the oil spill, if it occurs, will take more than 30 years for the Red Sea environment to recover from the damage.

He added that out of the 152 Yemeni islands in the Red Sea, about 115 islands along the western coast will be directly affected, as they are located in the path of the expected oil spill movement from Safer, and these islands will lose their natural habitats, their biological diversity, and the mangrove forests that constitute about 12% of the coastal strip of the Red Sea.

In turn, Dr. Abdul-Ghani Jagman, who specializes in this environmental disaster, says that the occurrence of the oil spill will lead to the death of 969 species of fish due to the spilled crude oil slicks, and about 969 species of reefs will disappear, 768 species of algae and 139 species of zooplankton that live in the waters will die. .

Jagman added in his speech to Al Jazeera Net that this disaster threatens 1.5 million migratory birds during their annual crossing of the Bab al-Mandab region, which is classified as the second global corridor of migratory soaring birds, while 390 species of land and water birds are at risk of death.

Damage to millions of people

According to the statistics of the Green Dream Foundation, 126,000 Yemeni fishermen will lose their only source of income due to the disaster, including 67,800 fishermen in Hodeidah Governorate, and 148 fisheries cooperative societies in Yemen will close their doors.

According to information published by Greenpeace Environmental Organization, approximately 5.9 million people in Yemen, and one million people in Saudi Arabia, will be exposed to very high levels of pollution, and the disaster may pose significant health risks to vulnerable groups, such as adults and children with lung diseases, and adults who suffer from Heart diseases, and the elderly, who may be exacerbated by heart and lung problems that they already suffer from.

The organization says that the oil spill could disrupt about 5,094 water wells that provide clean water to more than 9 million people, and may also affect the food supply for more than 8 million people.

It is noteworthy that the Safer ship was manufactured in 1976 as an oil tanker and was converted after a decade into a floating oil storage facility off the coast of Hodeidah Governorate. Risk of oil spillage due to leakage or explosion.

According to the United Nations, a large leak would quickly exceed national capabilities and resources to carry out an effective response to this leak, and the result would be catastrophic then, and it would destroy the Yemeni coast, livelihoods, and environmental damage would also affect Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia, and could disrupt vital shipping through Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Red Sea.

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