UN seeks $144m from donors to rescue rusting oil tanker off Yemen's coast

The 'FSO Safer' is moored near a coastline under Houthi rebel control

The decaying 'FSO Safer' moored off Ras Isa port, Yemen.  AP
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The UN is seeking $144 million in international aid to move a huge amount of oil stored in a rusting tanker near the Yemeni coast to safety, an official said on Monday.

The FSO Safer has become emblematic of the stalemate in the conflict in Yemen over the past few years.

Neither the Iran-backed Houthi rebels nor the country’s internationally recognised government have been able to benefit significantly from the ship's static 1.1 million-barrel cargo.

On April 14 the two sides agreed to a two-month truce and have largely stuck to it.

David Gressly, the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Yemen, said a meeting with potential international donors would convene in the Hague on Wednesday to gather funding.

Mr Gressly estimated the total cost at $144m, including $80m for an initial "emergency" phase to protect the oil

He said he was “fully confident” that the money would be found.

"It is only a question of how long it will take to pull all of it together," Mr Gressly said in Amman, Jordan. "We are in a sort of a race to find the money."

He was referring to the risk of the oil spilling into the sea because of the deteriorating vessel.

The FSO Safer is a floating storage and offloading ship moored eight kilometres off Ras Isa port on Yemen’s Houthi-held west coast.

On March 5 the UN and the Houthis signed an agreement to unload the oil from the vessel.

The deal commits the UN "to providing and supplying a replacement equivalent to the FSO Safer suitable for export” to the Houthis within 18 months.

The Houthis are to grant access to the vessel under the deal.

Updated: May 09, 2022, 8:41 PM