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Yemen’s vital port

As the humanitarian crisis in Yemen worsened and fighting intensified, UN secretary-general António Guterres issued a new warning on 17 September about the crucial port of Hodeidah.

An oil tanker, the FSO Safer, which has been marooned off the west coast of Yemen for five years without maintenance, is in danger of breaking up – or exploding – and releasing 1.2 million barrels of oil.

Guterres warned that such an oil slick would not only ‘severely harm Red Sea ecosystems relied on by 30 million people across the region’, but would also force Hodeidah to close for months. This would cut millions of Yemenis off from access to food ‘and other essential commodities’.

The tanker is controlled by the Houthi rebels, who refuse to allow UN access without concessions by the Saudi-led coalition.

On the other hand, for the last five years, the Saudi-led coalition has refused to allow the oil to be transferred to shore, to be used in rebel-held territory, or to guarantee that the revenues from the oil will go to the Houthi forces.

The British government backs the Saudi war effort politically and with arms sales, restarted in July (see PN 2644–2645).





Topics: Yemen