The first U.N.-chartered vessel set to transport grain from Ukraine to Africa docked Friday in Ukraine.
The vessel will carry the first shipment of humanitarian food to Africa under a U.N.-backed plan to move grain trapped by Russia’s war on Ukraine and to help relieve a global food crisis.
Previous ships with grain that were allowed to leave Ukraine under the deal were not humanitarian, and their cargoes had been purchased by other nations or vendors.
Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s minister of infrastructure, wrote in a tweet that the newly docked vessel would be loaded with 23,000 metric tons of grain bound for Ethiopia. The African nation, along with Somalia and Kenya, is facing the region’s worst drought in four decades.
“The wheat grain will go to the World Food Program’s operations in Ethiopia, supporting WFP’s Horn of Africa drought response as the threat of famine stalks the drought-hit region,” U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Friday.
“It is 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 families already struggling with rising hunger,” he said.
The ship MV Brave Commander arrived Friday in Yuzhne, Ukraine, east of Odesa on the Black Sea coast. After being loaded with wheat it will travel to Djibouti, where the grain will be unloaded and sent to Ethiopia, according to the United Nations.
Around 20 million metric tons of grain has been unable to leave Ukraine since Russia’s February invasion of the country.
On July 22, Kyiv and Moscow signed a landmark agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to unblock Black Sea grain deliveries.
Turkey has opened a special facility in Istanbul at the mouth of the Black Sea to oversee the exports. It is staffed by civilian and military officials from the warring sides and delegates from Turkey and the U.N.
VOA U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report. Some information came from The Associated Press and Reuters.