UN Calls for Assistance to Combat Oil Spill from Sinking of MV Rubymar

U.S. military confirms Rubymar vessel has sunk after being struck by Houthi missile. Handout via REUTERS
The sinking of the MV Rubymar off the coast of Yemen has prompted the United Nations International Maritime Organization to urgently request donations for oil spill response equipment. The ship, attacked by the Houthis, poses a serious environmental and maritime security threat, with its cargo still at risk of leakage.
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The United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) is urgently seeking donations of oil spill response equipment to aid Yemen after the sinking of the MV Rubymar cargo ship. The vessel sank off the coast of Mocha on March 2, 2024, following an attack by the Houthis a few weeks earlier, containing hazardous cargo that poses a significant environmental and maritime security risk. The ship carried ammonium phosphate sulfate fertilizer, heavy fuel oil, and marine diesel, resulting in a 29-kilometer-long oil slick and threatening the nearby Hanish Islands.

The Rubymar remains partially submerged at the sinking site, with its remaining cargo of bunker fuel and fertilizers still posing a severe environmental threat to the region. The appeal from the IMO highlights Yemen’s lack of specialized oil spill response equipment, calling on the international community to assist in preventing further environmental damage and potential leaks from the sunken ship. The incident marks the first sinking by the Houthi group in their attacks on merchant vessels, with over 80 attacks recorded since November, causing casualties and damage.

Following the successful recovery of oil from the FSO Safer tanker in August 2023, the IMO’s call for assistance in Yemen underscores the ongoing risks posed by the country’s civil war and maritime security challenges. The UN’s efforts to prevent a catastrophic oil spill in the region have been crucial in protecting coastal communities and key shipping routes in the Red Sea. With the Rubymar incident adding to the environmental concerns, international support is needed to address the immediate threat and mitigate further damage to the fragile ecosystem in the area.

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