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Coastal Conservation Catastrophe Close to Containment as Civil Crisis Continues

The ecological disaster long feared in the Red Sea may soon be averted, after Yemeni Houthi forces this week gave the much-anticipated go-ahead for United Nations personnel to approach a disintegrating oil tanker stranded off the Yemen coast. Experts carrying assessment and maintenance equipment will reach the decaying vessel by late January, a UN official said, after the deputy foreign minister of the Houthis, who control much of northwestern Yemen in its ongoing civil war, sent a letter to the organization welcoming the delegation. Environmental experts have in recent months warned that the Safer tanker, stranded in the Red Sea for over five years, could soon cause a spill four times as large as the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill near Alaska. On Wednesday, a tanker docked at a nearby Saudi port was hit by a blast which Saudi officials blame on a Houthi explosives-laden boat attack. No casualties were reported in the incident, and Houthi officials have yet to respond to the accusations. Riyadh has led a coalition of Arab countries in its efforts to reinstate ousted ruler Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in Sanaa after he was removed by Iran-backed Houthi forces. The ongoing conflict has caused the deaths of over 112,000 Yemenis and displaced more than three million. It is considered the world’s worst humanitarian crisis today.