AUGUST 11, 2023
I welcome the news that the UN has completed a complex maritime operation in the Red Sea to safely offload the entirety of the oil onboard the FSO Safer, a decaying 47-year-old oil supertanker moored off Yemen’s Red Sea coast. The Safer was at risk of an oil spill four times the size of the Exxon Valdez disaster. Such a spill would have cost tens of billions of dollars to clean up and been an environmental, economic, and humanitarian catastrophe for the region.
A broad international coalition banded together – with strong, early U.S. leadership – to tackle this problem. I want to thank UN Resident Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly, who spearheaded the project, the United Nations Development Programme, and other international partners who donated to this important effort. The United States, and specifically U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Timothy Lenderking, has been a leader on the project, working tirelessly to ensure its progression.
While the immediate crisis has been averted, the full operation, including safe removal of the Safer, is not yet finished. The UN urgently needs the international community and private sector’s financial support to fill the remaining $22 million funding gap needed to finish the job and address all remaining environmental threats.
This operation serves as a strong model for future international coordination and cooperation to proactively prevent crises before they occur. We commend the UN and the Yemeni parties who came together to avert an environmental, economic, and humanitarian disaster.