HRW urges Yemen’s Houthis to allow UN to secure abandoned oil tanker

Human Rights Watch yesterday urged Yemen’s Houthis to allow the United Nations to access an abandoned oil tanker known as the Safer in the Red Sea which is at risk of spilling millions of barrels of crude oil.

“The UN says a spill would have catastrophic environmental and humanitarian consequences, including destroying livelihoods and shutting down the port of Hodeida, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis who depend on commercial imports and humanitarian aid,” HRW said in a statement.

HRW explained that the tanker, owned by the Yemeni state-run Safer Exploration and Production Operations Company (SEPOC), has been stranded five nautical miles off Yemen’s coast and 32 nautical miles from Hudaydah since 2015.

“In late May 2020, seawater entered the tanker’s engine compartment. While divers temporarily fixed the leak, the incident has heightened concern about the risks of an oil spill,” HRW added.

In early July, the Houthis, who control the region, said they would allow the United Nations to carry out an assessment mission, but as of the end of July the United Nations had not obtained the necessary permits.

The oil tanker is carrying approximately 1.1 million barrels of crude oil.

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