A UN-chartered vessel should soon arrive at the Ukrainian port of Yuzhny, also known as Pivdennyi, to collect wheat that will help feed millions of hungry people in the Horn of Africa, the World Food Programme (WFP) reported on Friday.
This will be the first shipment of humanitarian food assistance under the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed last month by Ukraine, Russia and Türkiye.
WFP said the development marks “another important step in efforts to reintegrate Ukrainian food into global markets and get it to countries worst affected by the global food crisis through both commercial and humanitarian avenues.”
The MV Brave Commander is expected to berth shortly at Yuzhny, located on the Black Sea.
Supporting drought response
The ship departed the Turkish capital, Istanbul, on Wednesday after clearing inspection by the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), the mechanism that supports implementation of the UN-brokered agreement on resuming grain exports from Ukraine.
The JCC will monitor the movement of commercial vessels transporting grain, foodstuffs and fertilizer from Yuzhny and two other key Ukrainian ports: Odesa and Chornomorsk.
WFP has purchased the wheat for its operations in Ethiopia, supporting drought response in the Horn of Africa where the threat of famine looms.
The UN agency recently warned of the dire food security situation across the region, following four consecutive failed rainy seasons.
The Horn of Africa is just one of many areas around the world where the near complete halt of Ukrainian grain and food on the global market has made life even harder for the families already struggling with rising hunger.
A record 345 million people in 82 countries are now facing acute food insecurity, WFP said. Up to 50 million in 45 countries are at risk of being pushed into famine without humanitarian support.
The M/V Fulmar S, the first commercial emtpy grain vessel from Istanbul to Ukraine under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, awaits JCC authorized movement, pending inspection.
Off to a good start
The Brave Commander will discharge the wheat in Djibouti after clearing the JCC protocols in Istanbul on the outbound trip.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative was signed on 22 July and so far, 12 vessels have been authorized to depart the Ukrainian ports, the senior UN official at the JCC told journalists this week.
Frederick Kenney, UN Interim Coordinator, said while there is still much work ahead, “we are off with a very good start”.
UN Coordinator appointed
On Friday, Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Amir Mahmoud Abdulla as the UN Coordinator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
Mr. Abdulla is the former Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of WFP, overseeing its humanitarian operations around the world.
He succeeds Mr. Kenney, who was on loan from the International Maritime Organization (IMO).