Nov 26, 2020 19:34 UTC
  • Yemen grants UN access to abandoned fuel tanker near Hudaydah

Yemen has given the green light for a UN mission to inspect and repair a long-abandoned fuel tanker stranded near the port city of Hudaydah.

"An urgent maintenance agreement and a comprehensive evaluation of the Safer tanker was signed with the United Nations in order to avoid an environmental catastrophe," Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a member of the Supreme Political Council of Yemen, said in a tweet late Wednesday.

Yemeni media also quoted sources from Yemen's Ansarullah movement as saying that a message had been sent to the United Nations welcoming the experts who would conduct the "urgent evaluation and maintenance".

The officials are “currently waiting for a letter from the United Nations to inform the date of the arrival of the team of experts, after they have been granted the necessary visas to enter Yemen, and to start implementing the work assigned to them alongside the national technical team," it said.

"We hope that the United Nations will accelerate the implementation of the steps according to the agreement, and send the team of experts to carry out their duties quickly."

The UN said earlier this week that the operation could begin by late January or early February, depending on when it could obtain the necessary equipment.

The UN in recent months has been attempting to assess the "FSO Safer", which threatens to rupture in Yemen's north.

An earlier deal on access struck in July failed to materialize, but UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said this week that the new accord was more formal and represented "an important step forward in this critical work".

The 45-year-old vessel, abandoned near the western port of Hudaydah since 2015, has 1.1 million barrels of crude on board, and a rupture or explosion would have disastrous environmental and humanitarian consequences.

Ansarullah has already warned that the responsibility for a possible explosion of the oil tanker falls on Saudi Arabian aggressors and the United Nations.

In August, the movement’s spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam rejected claims by Saudi Arabia and United Nations that Yemeni forces prevented UN teams from visiting the stranded oil tanker.

He made the comments in reaction to a warning by a number of UN experts who said the ship may cause a humanitarian crisis or even a massive blast, blaming Ansarullah for the situation.

Abdul-Salam then stressed that the UN was in no position to talk about humanity after removing the Saudi-led coalition from its child-killer blacklist.

The Saudi-led coalition waging a brutal military campaign against Yemen is also reportedly seizing dozens of ships carrying food and oil supplies for the impoverished and war-ravaged Arab country.

The vessels, loaded with thousands of tons of oil derivatives and foodstuff, are stranded off the coast of Yemen.

The Yemeni Petroleum Company (YPC) has repeatedly condemned the piracy, stressing that Saudi Arabia has illegally impounded these ships since they all had acquired international permits beforehand and that what Riyadh is doing is in violation of the provisions of the International Convention on Human Rights.