Name? Inger Andersen
Westphalian identity? Danish
Why is she in the news? As Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Andersen has been advocating for the safest possible scenario for tackling a rusting, neglected 341 meter oil tanker off the coast of Yemen.
Why do we care? An ecological emergency would be disastrous for both the environment and those living in it. An oil spill would make the fishing grounds of the Red Sea incredibly contaminated, cutting off a lifeline for many living on Yemen’s coast.
Why should you care? Yemen has been struggling to overcome war, starvation, disease and poverty for years now. As Andersen stated in a UNSC meeting: “Should the situation get out of control, it [the oil tanker] will directly affect millions of people in a country already enduring the world’s largest humanitarian emergency.”
Who else cares? The Houthi rebels. For the past five years they have seen the tanker as a potential investment for financing their armed conflict against the Saudi-backed government. Now that the price of oil is incredibly low due to Covid-19 and the risk of a catastrophe continues to grow, they have had a change of mind. Without access to the tanker and with the potential of being held responsible for human suffering in an area controlled by the Iran backed Houthis, the once appealing investment has effectively turned into a nightmare.
Any further comments? Covid-19 has been a catalyst in many regards. It intensifies existing inequalities, suffering and conflict; all of which apply to Yemen. Although much of the funds from abroad have decreased, Khamenei, MBZ and MBS all have their own problems at home, and the involved parties agreed upon a ceasefire in April/May, the fighting has still continued. Moreover, between all of that is the starving Yemen population whose starvation has only been heightened with the lack of international aid in the Covid era.