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News in Brief 25 July 2023

News in Brief 25 July 2023

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Yemen: High-risk UN operation to avert catastrophic oil spill underway

The UN has started a complex operation to transfer crude oil from a decaying supertanker stranded off the coast of Yemen since 2015. 

The nine-operation will pump more than one million barrels out of the rusting vessel, the Safer, which was abandoned over eight years ago, to a nearby replacement vessel.

Secretary-General António Guterres said the UN has taken on the delicate operation as a spill would spell environmental catastrophe for the region.

“The United Nations has begun an operation to defuse what might be the world’s largest ticking time-bomb. This is an all-hands-on-deck mission and the culmination of nearly two years of political groundwork, fundraising and project development.”

Lying north of the Yemeni port Hudaydah, UN officials have warned for years about the possibility that the 47-year-old tanker could crack and explode.

The UN Secretary-General has called for a further $20 million to finish the project, including the scrapping of the Safer and removing any remaining environmental threats to the Red Sea.

IAEA: Mines found at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine 

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog – the IAEA - has said that anti-personnel mines have been discovered near Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP).

Rafael Mariano Grossi, the Director General of the UN agency, said that the mines were found in a buffer zone inaccessible to plant staff, situated between the inside and outside perimeter of the plant.

While initial assessments indicate that the mines will not compromise the nuclear safety of the power station, they still pose a risk and add stress to staff, said the IAEA chief. 

This marks the second consecutive month that the International Atomic Energy Agency has reported safety violations at the Russian-held power plant.

UN warns of looming disaster emergency in Asia and the Pacific 

A UN report on Tuesday warned that global temperature increases will likely have a disastrous impact on tens of millions of people in Asia-Pacific nations - the world’s most disaster-prone region.

According to the UN regional body ESCAP, natural disasters have killed two million people in the Asia-Pacific area since 1970.

Under a 2°C warming scenario, the UN body projects an increase in deaths and potential economic losses of more than $1 trillion, if there is no adequate response.

In a bid to find solutions, ESCAP’s Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction is in talks with government officials and experts all this week.

In 2022, more than 140 disasters struck the Asia-Pacific region, leaving more than 7,500 people dead and at least 64 million affected.

ESCAP noted that communities living in current danger hotspots will see more frequent, intense disasters, while new risk hotspots are likely to emerge, outpacing the capacity to respond.

Recommendations include greater investment in multi-hazard early warning systems to save more lives and mitigate economic impact, as studies indicate that they can reduce financial losses by up to 60 per cent.

Caitlin Kelly, UN News.

  • Yemen: UN starts high-risk operation to prevent catastrophic oil spill from decaying tanker
  • IAEA: Anti-personnel mines found in Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine
  • UN warns of looming disaster emergency in Asia-Pacific region
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Caitlin Kelly, UN News - Geneva
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© Unsplash/Arvind Vallabh