The high-level side event at the United Nations General Assembly Week, co-hosted by the Netherlands, the United States and Germany, honoured the joint effort with the UN to prevent a looming environmental disaster with severe humanitarian and economic costs. To prevent this catastrophe the UN has coordinated – in close consultation with Yemeni parties – an operational plan. The estimated budget for the two-track plan is $113 million, of which $75 million is required to start the first phase of the operation (emergency operation). The United States, the UN, and the Netherlands partnered in April 2022 to launch an intensive awareness-raising campaign. Since the pledging conference in May 2022 – jointly organized by the Government of the Netherlands and the UN – many donors have pledged generously. At the high-level side event, we reached an important milestone as we have closed the funding gap for the emergency operation. The co-hosts are the biggest donors backing the UN-led plan, with 15 million Euros from the Netherlands, 12 million Euros from Germany and $10 million from the United States, followed by Saudi Arabia ($10 million) and the United Kingdom ($7.5 million). The co-hosts will continue their outreach to mobilize the funding needed to finalize the operation.
Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands Liesje Schreinemacher: “Normally, as minister, it is my job to deal with the repercussions of disasters. But in this instance, we have a chance to prevent a disaster. The Safer is a ticking timebomb. We need swift action. It is encouraging that so many countries have pledged their financial support. Thanks in part to the Netherlands’ contribution we now have the necessary funds to start salvaging the vessel.”
U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking: “We are proud that the United States pledged $10 million for the UN Safer project. Our contribution stands alongside contributions from a range of countries, organizations, and individuals across the globe, representing a broad coalition of partners that understands the importance of preventing an economic and environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea.”
Director General for Crisis Prevention, Stabilisation, Peace Building and Humanitarian Assistance of the German Federal Foreign Office Deike Potzel: “Thanks to our continued joint efforts, we have a rare opportunity here, to tell a story not often told: the story of how we prevented a catastrophe! With its contribution of 12 million, Germany significantly contributes to this accomplishment. If all parties to the conflict stick to the agreement made to rescue the FSO Safer and the operation is successful, the FSO Safer can go from being a symbol of impending disaster to a beacon of hope for Yemen!”
Thanks to the mobilization and financial support of donor countries from the region and from all over the world, the operation is expected to start soon. It is now crucial that the donors swiftly disburse their contributions to allow UNDP, the UN organization coordinating the implementation, to sign all necessary contracts.
In New York, the UN gave insights into the operational plan: first transferring the oil into a safe vessel (Phase I), before installing a permanent storage solution and scrapping the Safer (Phase II). Phase II requires an additional $38 million. The co-hosts will continue their efforts and urge additional pledges in particular from the private sector to fulfil Phase II.