Ukraine: Departure of a first ship loaded with cereals bound for Africa
by Pavel Polityuk and Daren Butler
KYIV/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Five new ships loaded with grain were able to leave Ukraine on Tuesday morning, including a boat chartered by the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) carrying wheat destined for Ethiopia, authorities said Turkish, Ukrainian and the UN.
This is the first grain shipment to Africa since Ukrainian grain exports resumed earlier this month, as part of the agreement on secure sea corridors from three ports in the Odessa region signed July 22 in Istanbul by Russia and Ukraine under the aegis of the United Nations and Turkey.
“The Brave Commander left the Ukrainian port of Pivdenny”, in the city of Yuzhni, with 23,000 tonnes of wheat on board, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov announced on Twitter on Monday morning, specifying that it “should arrive in Ethiopia in two weeks”.
This cargo will “integrate the WFP’s humanitarian response in the Horn of Africa, where famine threatens after the drought,” the UN program said in a statement.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure said in a statement that it was working with the United Nations to increase food exports “for the most vulnerable populations in Africa”.
Before the start of the war, Ukraine and Russia together accounted for about a third of world wheat exports and the United Nations has repeatedly warned in recent months of the risk of exacerbation of the world food crisis linked to soaring food prices in the wake of the conflict, in particular due to the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea.
According to the WFP, 345 million people in 82 countries are currently facing acute food insecurity – a record – and nearly 50 million people in 45 countries risk plunging into famine without humanitarian aid.
A total of five ships loaded with corn and wheat left Ukrainian ports on Monday (three from Chernomorsk and two from the port of Pivdenny), bringing to 21 the number of ships that have been able to carry out Ukrainian grain exports since the beginning of the months, said the Turkish Defense Ministry.
Four new ships bound for Ukraine are to be inspected on Tuesday before entering Black Sea waters by UN, Russian, Turkish and Ukrainian staff from the joint coordination center, based in Istanbul, the ministry said.
As part of the agreement, checks are carried out in Istanbul on empty boats heading for Ukraine and cargoes are also inspected before they cross the Bosphorus Strait to reach the Sea of Marmara.
Ukraine exported 948,000 tons of grain in the first half of August, compared to 1.88 million tons in the same period last year.
Ukrainian Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yuri Vaskov announced on Monday that Ukraine may export three million tonnes of grain by sea in September and may subsequently reach four million tonnes each month.
(Reporting by Daren Butler in Istanbul and Pavel Polityuk in Kyiv; French version by Myriam Rivet, edited by Kate Entringer)
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