Analysis: How Yemen war destructive for regional ecosystem?

Analysis: How Yemen war destructive for regional ecosystem?

Substantial oil pollution in the Arabian Sea coast was caused by a sunk oil tanker owned by an official of the government of the resigned President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, reported Yemeni sources in Aden port city.

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Substantial oil pollution in the Arabian Sea coast was caused by a sunk oil tanker owned by an official of the government of the resigned President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, reported Yemeni sources in Aden port city. 

The sources further said that the vessel sank in Alburiqa coasts in western Aden as its "useful life had ended and it was unqualified for transportation." 

The private oil tanker Dia began to sink on July 18 off the southern coast of Yemen near the Port of Aden, leaving an oil slick of more than 20 km along the shore and causing damage to the Al-Huswah natural reserve, the only nature reserve in the city, local sources said. 

The tanker was banned from international waters under the Saudi and Yemeni violation of the Yemeni sovereignty and six-year blockade. 

The interior ministry of the Yemeni National Salvation Government (NSG) in the capital Sana'a, citing a report by the Aden coast guard on territorial water pollution, said that "the aggression coalition and its mercenaries were aware of the oil ship's deteriorating conditions and dangers to the environment and shipping lines, but allowed it to dock in the port of Aden for a long time until it finally sank, thus polluting the coasts of the province in a deliberate crime." 

The statement held the Saudi coalition and the loyalists "fully accountable" for the environmental pollution and damage caused. 

Big threat for Yemen's ecosystem and people 

In addition to their strategic, economic, and social significance for the region, the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden have recognized sea and coastal values. The Red Sea offers potential climate for coral reefs due to the relatively higher flexibility of its corals compared to the rest of the world. In addition to pervasive coral reefs, the area also offers grounds for vast seagrass. The Gulf of Aden has the highest levels of biological productivity in the world. The flow of nutrient-rich water from the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea is largely due to greater productivity in the southern part of the Red Sea. 

Fishing, as a traditional business, remains a key source of income and food for locals. However, in recent years, residents' fishing incomes have declined, mainly due to the destruction of basic coastal habitats and overfishing. Excessive exploitation of marine resources, dangers of maritime navigation and threats of hydrocarbon leakage from ships and industrial centers, illegal discharge of pollutants by passing ships and the effects of climate change are the main factors impacting the ecosystem and environment of the region. 

The CEO of SEPCO that owns the floating oil supertanker Safer said that since Saudi Arabia waged the war on Yemen in 2015, the vessel has not undergone repair operations. He went on that the ship's forecastle gates were rusty and thus could not be closed tightly. The fire extinguishing systems is no longer working. 

Environment experts warn that with the 1.14 million oil barrels stored in the tanker, the consequences of the oil spill to the sea are "indescribable" and can lead to a catastrophe for Yemen. 

ACAPS, a non-profit, non-governmental organization in Geneva providing international, independent humanitarian analysis, warns that if Safer leaks, it will impact life of 31,500 fishers and 235,000 workers in the industry. This is in addition to impacts on the related industries and possibly three-month closure of vital Hudaydah port, as the only lifeline to the impoverished and war-stricken Yemeni people, said the organization. According to its predictions, the costs of cleaning the pollution in case of oil spill will be around $20 billion, almost equal to Yemen's GDP in 2019. 

Fire can make things worse. Up to 5.9 million people in Yemen and another 1 million in Saudi Arabia can be exposed to air pollution. Meanwhile, the infrastructure of the Yemeni health care system has been almost completely destroyed as a result of the Saudi war and airstrikes. About 500 square kilometers of Yemeni agricultural land will be blanketed with soot, which will lead to the loss of livestock and the destruction of agricultural products feeding approximately 10 million Yemenis and 1.5 million people in neighboring Saudi Arabia. 

This is while civilians in Yemen, who are already suffering from hunger and fresh water shortage, pay the highest price of the Saudi-Emirati war imposed on their country. The UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock, said "across Yemen, more than 16 million people are going hungry – including 5 million who are just one step away from famine." The UN agencies warn that if conditions fail to improve, this year at least 400,000 Yemeni children can potentially lose their life. 

In the middle of these tragic conditions, oil spill can only compound the situation for Yemen. Currently, 90 percent of Yemen food is imported. About three quarters of frozen food enters Yemen from Hudaydah port that is controlled by Ansarullah Movement. This is the port whose operation and also the operation of the smaller Port of Salif, is endangered by the decaying Safer tanker.  

Saudi-Emirati coalition breaches marine environment laws 

On the strength of mercenaries and militias, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been looting Yemen's resources, including oil and gas, fishing industry, and rare trees of Socotra island. Their violation of the environmental laws are clear to all. 

In 1974, a plan for conservation of Red Sea and Gulf of Aden environment (PERSGA) was launched in association with the Arab League Educational , Cultural, and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) and the UN Environment Program (UNEP) based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. In 1982, PERSGA was adopted by Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. The convention required the countries of the region to counter actions and factors destructive to the environments of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. 

The oil and other hydrocarbons-caused marine pollution is an emergency to the region. The protocol on cooperation to counter oil pollution of the sea was signed in 1982. But apparent violation of it by Saudi Arabia and the UAE during the years of war poses a huge risk for the region and beyond it and invites for international community intervention to check these countries' destructive measures.


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