UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Houthis on Saturday sent an official letter to the UN confirming their approval for experts to access the stranded vessel to carry out vital maintenance checks.
The 45-year-old ship has been anchored about 60 km north of Hudaydah since the start of the Saudi-led war on Yemen five years ago and is loaded with more than 1 million barrels of crude oil. Officials have warned that the rotting tanker posed “grave risks” to the environment and maritime navigation if left unattended any longer.
“The objective of the UN-led expert mission is to assess the vessel and undertake initial light maintenance as well as to formulate recommendations on what further action is required to neutralize the risk of an oil spill,” Dujarric added.
During a press briefing in New York, he said that the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) would handle picking members of the mission and equipment required for assessing and repairing damage to the Safer.
“I think if everything comes together, we would expect the mission staff and the equipment to arrive on site by late January or early February.”