Additional Funds Announced at Pledging Conference for United Nations Operation to Avert Red Sea Oil Spill

Significant funding gap remains as close to $24 million more still needed for operation’s emergency phase that begins this month

May 4, 2023

Due to the conflict in Yemen, the FSO Safer has decayed to the point where there is an imminent risk it could explode or break apart, which would have disastrous effects on the region and beyond.


Sana’a/New York - The United Kingdom and the Netherlands co-hosted an online pledging event today to raise funds for the UN plan to prevent a catastrophic oil spill from the FSO Safer, a decaying supertanker off Yemen’s Red Sea coast that will break up or explode if the world does not act.

Egypt, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and private company Octavia Energy and its subsidiary, Calvalley Petroleum, announced pledges totaling almost $8 million, of which $5.6 million represents new funding.

With that amount, the UN has now raised $105.2 million for the emergency phase of the operation to remove the oil from the FSO Safer. This leaves $23.8 million for the emergency phase unfunded. An additional $19 million is required for the critical second phase, comprising the installation of a catenary anchor leg mooring buoy and the tethering of the replacement vessel to it, as well as the towing of the FSO Safer to a green salvage yard for recycling. 

The UN is grateful to all who have contributed and looks forward to further support to ensure the operation is fully funded. A window of opportunity is closing to prevent a potentially devastating catastrophe for the environment and millions of people, and save tens of billions of dollars in cleanup costs and trade losses. 

The UN continues to work nonstop on this critical mission. Following successful contracting by UNDP in March and April, both the replacement very large crude carrier Nautica and the service vessel Ndeavor and team that will carry out the transfer of the oil are en route to Djibouti for final preparations before the operation begins. 

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner represented the UN Secretary-General at the event.

UNDP is implementing the emergency phase of the operation to remove the oil and avert the immediate threat. 

Speaking at the conclusion of the event, Mr. Steiner said: “We truly appreciate the UK and the Netherlands stepping up and taking the lead in organizing this pledging conference and we thank those who have contributed so far. Yet, the funds are still significantly short of what is needed. The rationale for action is clear: 20 million dollars now could save 20 billion in potential costs later. The moral case is equally clear. Millions stand to suffer in the event of an oil spill from the FSO Safer. 

As part of the UN plan, UNDP continues to work nonstop to avoid a catastrophe and is committed to the operation. We reiterate our call to the international community, and particularly to the private sector and countries in the region, to join those of us who are committed to seeing through this critical initiative and closing the funding gap.”

From Sana’a, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly, who leads on UN system-wide efforts on the FSO Safer said, “We are on the cusp of addressing the threat from the Safer. That is a testament to the broad coalition working to prevent the catastrophe, including the entire UN system, donors, the private sector, and the global public through the UN’s crowdfunding campaign, environmental groups, and many others. But we will not truly heave a sigh of relief until the work is done. We thank all donors for their generosity and encourage others to contribute to save the Red Sea.”

The UN remains extremely grateful to donors who have supported the project to date: Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as the HSA Group, the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, Octavia Energy/Calvalley Petroleum and the Trafigura Foundation. 

Individual members of the public have also contributed more than $260,000 through a UN crowdfunding campaign. For more information on the FSO Safer Project, visit:

For more information

For the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen:, New York: +1 347 654 0913, Sana’a: +967 712 221 850

For the UN Development Programme: +1 646 673 6350


Due to the conflict in Yemen, the FSO Safer has decayed to the point where there is an imminent risk it could explode or break apart, which would have disastrous effects on the region and beyond.

A major spill would devastate fishing communities on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, likely wiping out 200,000 livelihoods instantly. Whole communities would be exposed to life-threatening toxins. Highly polluted air would affect millions. It could close of the ports of Hodeidah and Saleef – which are essential to bring food, fuel and life-saving supplies into Yemen, where 17 million people need food assistance. The closure of desalination plants would cut off a water source for millions of people. Oil from the Safer could reach the African coast and affect any country on the Red Sea. The environmental impact on coral reefs life-supporting mangroves and other marine life would be severe. Fish stocks would take 25 years to recover.

The cost of cleanup alone is estimated at $20 billion. Disruptions to shipping through the Bab al-Mandab strait to the Suez Canal could cost billions more in global trade losses every day, as happened after the Ever Given grounded in the Canal in 2021.

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly, has led UN system-wide efforts to on the FSO Safer since September 2021. UNDP is implementing this complex and high-risk project.