An operation to empty a decaying oil tanker off the coast of Yemen helped avoid a catastrophe for both people and the environment, according to the UN secretary-general.
Antonio Guterres "welcomes the news that the ship-to-ship transfer of oil from the FSO Safer to the Yemen replacement vessel has been safely concluded today, avoiding what could have been a monumental environmental and humanitarian catastrophe," spokesperson Farhan Haq said in a statement.
Guterres thanked Yemeni authorities "whose support has been critical" to completing the project. The statement added that additional funding will be needed to finalize the project, and "remove any remaining environmental threat to the Red Sea."
"The Secretary-General urges donors to contribute funds at this crucial time to conclude this operation," said Haq.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, also welcomed the completion of the transfer of oil from the decaying tanker.
"Had the world not acted, coastlines across the Horn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula would have been polluted, exposing communities to deadly toxins, and contaminating drinking water supplies for the entire region," she said.
This is a "model example of international cooperation," and the work must be finished "by removing the Safer from the Red Sea," added Thomas-Greenfield.
The FSO Safer oil tanker, a floating storage and offloading unit, is located in the water 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of the port of Hudaydah. It has been used for storing and exporting oil from sites in the oil-rich central province of Marib.
The tanker, which is controlled by Houthi rebels, has lacked maintenance since 2015, and over 1 million barrels of crude oil have remained within the decaying vessel in the Red Sea.