The first ship loaded with Ukrainian grain arrives in Africa


BarcelonaFor the first time since February, this Tuesday a ship loaded with grain from Ukraine docked in an African port. The Brave Commander, loaded with 23,000 tons of wheat, has arrived in Djibouti and has become the first ship to reach the African continent under the agreement for the export of agricultural products between Russia and Ukraine, thanks to mediation of Turkey and the United Nations. To this loading will be added another 7,000 tons from another ship that will arrive in the next few days at the same port. All this grain will be transported to Ethiopia, and will serve to feed 1.5 million people for a month, according to the World Food Program (WFP).

“It is a start, but we must continue to maintain the flow of food to save lives in the region,” warned Michael Dunford, WFP director for East Africa. According to the international agency, these first thousands of tons of grain will help support WFP’s humanitarian response in Ethiopia, where more than 20 million people are suffering from hunger. The ship set sail from the Ukrainian port of Pivdeni on August 16 and became the first with a “humanitarian cargo” managed by the United Nations agency fighting world hunger. Until then, all exports that had left Ukrainian ports had been part of commercial operations and WFP’s was the first for humanitarian purposes, specifically to deal with the food crisis in the Horn of Africa, affected by drought.

In East Africa there are more than 80 million people in need of food aid due to extreme weather conditions, rising food prices and the war in Ukraine. Before the start of the invasion, Russia and Ukraine supplied 90 percent of the wheat needed in this part of the continent, and Ukraine alone produced enough grain to feed 400 million people each year, according to the WFP. “Ukraine was actually our main commodity supplier in the world. We bought 880,000 tonnes of grain from it last year,” explained Marianne Ward, WFP’s Deputy Emergency Coordinator in Ukraine.

The agreement signed in July has helped unblock the situation, but agricultural exports across the Black Sea are still far from usual levels. Since the beginning of August, 600,000 tons of wheat have been exported from Ukrainian ports, while in the same period last year they were almost three million.

The WFP warned in mid-August that it will expand assistance to the Horn of Africa – which stretches from Eritrea in the north, through Djibouti and Ethiopia, to the southern ends of Kenya and Somalia – because the crisis food situation is getting worse due to the consecutive droughts that have hit the region, the worst in more than 40 years.

According to the international body, at the beginning of this year there were 13 million people in this region in a serious situation of food insecurity because of the drought; by mid-year, that number had risen to 20 million, and the number is now expected to rise again to at least 22 million by September. The WFP warns that this number will continue to rise and that the severity of the famine will deepen if the next rainy season (from October to December) fails again, especially in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Another humanitarian ship to Yemen

On the same day that the first ship with cargo managed by WFP has arrived in Africa, the organization has announced that a second ship has set sail from the Ukrainian port of Pivdeni with grain, which in this case is being sent to Yemen. The MV Karteria, which carries a load of 37,000 tons of wheat, will first stop in Turkey – as determined by the agreed protocol -, where the grain will be turned into flour.

In Yemen, a country ravaged by an entrenched war, more than 17 million people suffer from hunger, a number that the United Nations warns will grow in the coming months. The Ukrainian grain sent there will provide a 50-kilogram bag of wheat flour per head for almost 4 million people for a month.

Both of these burdens are clearly insufficient given the magnitudes of hunger in both the Horn of Africa and Yemen, as well as other poor countries. In fact, according to the United Nations, the deterioration of the global food crisis has led to a record number of people in a serious situation of food insecurity: there are already 345 million people in 82 countries who are going hungry.


Source: Ara.cat – Portada by www.ara.cat.

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