Skip to main content

US envoy urges funding for Yemen’s ‘ticking time bomb’

Envoy Tim Lenderking called on donor governments and the private sector to help prevent a dilapidated tanker in the Red Sea from spilling its cargo of oil.
An undated image of the FSO Safer.

The US special envoy for Yemen warned Tuesday of a looming environmental and humanitarian disaster if a United Nations plan to avert a major oil spill in the Red Sea isn’t fully funded. 

Some 3.7 miles north of Yemen’s port city of Hodeida sits the FSO Safer, an aging offshore storage vessel that contains more than 1 million barrels of light crude oil — about four times the amount released in Alaska’s Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. 

Yemen’s Houthi rebels haven’t carried out proper maintenance on the rusting ship since they seized it from the state-run oil company in 2015, and UN officials say the Safer is now beyond repair. 

Why it matters: Experts have warned it’s only a matter of time before the Safer leaks or even explodes, wreaking havoc on a country already experiencing what is considered the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.