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The Safer, the tanker that threatens to turn the Red Sea black

The Safer

In the Gulf of Aden, a Japanese supertanker off Yemen, The Safer, has been immobile since 2015. Its constant deterioration raises fears of the worst: a threat that could affect the entire Red Sea in the event of a leak or an explosion.

1,14 million barrels of oil, or 181 million liters of crude aboard an abandoned oil tanker that is rusting… A threat four times greater than that of the Exxon Valdez in the Alaskan Sea in 1989, yet considered the greatest environmental disaster in history.

This time bomb is called Safer, a Japanese supertanker flying the Yemeni flag, off the coast of Yemen. A danger for the entire eastern African coast because, if Safer were to experience a spill or an explosion - very likely because of the gases that are generated by the oil on board the heavily damaged ship - the Red Sea would become in a few days, literally , black !

The Safer, a disaster for Africa, especially

Since the beginning of the civil war in Yemen, the belligerents have disputed in 2015 the control of Safer. As a result, the steering unit of this 362-meter-long sea monster is irreversibly damaged, its single turbine is out of order and the hull is cracked in several places, making it impossible for the Safer to be moved.

According to Ahmed El Droubi, campaign manager for Greenpeace for the MENA region, it is a “threat that cannot wait”. “The derelict tanker, with its toxic cargo of crude oil, poses a serious threat to Red Sea communities and the environment. The Safer can only be made safe by moving the oil on board. Despite the difficulties, financial and political, we urge the UN and all parties and governments in the region and beyond to prioritize this effort,” El Droubi said. The activist believes that this action, aimed at preventing a major disaster, “or at least at mitigating its impact”, cannot wait any longer.

An oil spill caused by Safer would affect, in particular, all the inhabitants of the coast of East Africa, from southern Egypt to Kenya, probably Tanzania. The destruction would invalidate any hope that the gigantic region would once again experience any seaside tourist activity, and would irreparably destroy the schools of fish. The seven to eight African countries that would potentially be affected also provide access to the sea for some fifteen other landlocked African countries. The economic prospect of such a disaster is a calamity. However, on the African side, apart from Somaliland, no country has been involved, even diplomatically, in resolving this crisis which has lasted for seven years.

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