Cabinet allocates 7.5 million to prevent oil tanker disaster in Yemen

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The Dutch government is allocating 7.5 million euros for the rescue of an oil tanker off the coast of Yemen, Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher announced at a (digital) donor conference organized by the UN. In total, more than 31 million euros were collected.

According to the Minister, the tanker bearing the name FSO Safer could start leaking at any time, which could cause enormous damage to people and the environment. According to her, the UN has a concrete plan to prevent a natural disaster. But that required money. The Netherlands is therefore now making a contribution and “will support the UN in its work to rescue the tanker in the coming weeks”, said Minister Schreinemacher.

The FSO Safer, with over a million barrels of oil on board, has been off the coast of Yemen for years. Due to the civil war in this country, no maintenance was carried out on the rusty ship for years. At the end of January, Greenpeace had already requested that the oil be transferred to other ships to avoid “one of the biggest oil disasters in history”.

According to the cabinet and the UN, nearly 38 million euros are now available for the rescue operation. In total, more than 135 million euros would be needed, including around 75 million for the storage of oil on board the FSO Safer. According to Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra, it is estimated that cleaning up a possible environmental disaster would cost around 19 billion euros.

Major economic damage

The organizers of the donors’ conference stress that the oil spill from the ship would constitute “a humanitarian and environmental disaster” with major economic damage as a result. The UN and government also warn that more than 200,000 Yemeni fishermen will lose their main livelihood.

Greenpeace says in a response that the money pledged should be enough to start the rescue operation in the coming weeks, but also says it’s definitely not enough yet. “The full amount needed has not yet been committed and the situation at SFO Safer is deteriorating day by day.”

The environmental group is calling on countries to “keep their promises” and ensure oil on board the tanker is “secured quickly and safely”. Greenpeace also recommends sending materials in the form of floating barriers to Yemen now, in order to immediately contain a possible oil spill.

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