The Yemeni government renewed calls on the United Nations to pressure Houthi militias into allowing international teams to prevent the breakout of a potentially disastrous oil spill at the Safir offshore oil platform, which floats off Hodeidah’s northern coast.
In an address to the UN Secretary General, Yemeni Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdullah al-Hadrami stressed the need to get Houthis to grant the international body’s probing technicians access to Safir.
The facility contains more than one million barrels of crude oil pumped before Houthis staged a nationwide coup four years ago. The Iran-backed insurgents refuse allowing the internationally-recognized government from exporting that oil, and threaten blowing up the naval facility if they are not allowed to sell the oil reserves themselves.
Any explosion at Safir will cause a catastrophic oil spill with irreversible environmental damage.
Apart from Houthi threats of attack, Hadrami warned against the Houthis’ continued blocking of assessment teams from examining the reservoir, which he said was in a corrosive condition that could lead up to a shocking environmental disaster that would contaminate Red Sea and regional waters.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, President of the Revolutionary Council, a body formed by the militants, had tabled an offer previously to sell the oil reserves stored in Safir and have the freely-elected government and insurgents split revenues.
Hadrami, for his part, stressed the government’s keenness to its long-standing demand for solutions on this particular issue. He underscored that the government has cooperated fully with the UN in this regard and is waiting for experts to evaluate the development of an effective strategy.
The Yemeni deputy foreign minister also placed blame on the militias for causing an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.
According to official sources, Hadrami stressed during a high-level meeting that the Yemeni government was – and still is – very keen on peace, and the full implementation of the UN-brokered peace agreement inked in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, last December.
“The government has made a lot of concessions to this end, despite the continued intransigence of the Houthi militias, their maneuvering to buy time at the expense of suffering Yemenis and the failure of the Swedish agreement,” he said.
Hadrami renewed the government’s condemnation of Houthis’ continued blackmailing of international organizations operating in Yemen and their militias looting of food aid and humanitarian relief.
He also appreciated the efforts and positions undertaken by the World Food Program (WFP) to put an end to such violations.