Ukraine delivers 25,000 tons of grain to famine-hit Somalia

Ukraine grain shipping: Situation 'volatile' says John Rich

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A ship laden with 25,000 tons of grain has arrived in Somalia, the third such vessel to deliver vital shipments of food in accordance with Volodymyr Zelensky’s pioneering Grain from Ukraine programme. The delivery was made possible with support from the UN World Food Program (WFP), and financial assistance from the governments of Japan, France, and Finland.

Somalia is in the midst of its fifth consecutive failed rainy season, according to the International Rescue Committee.

By mid-2023, more than eight million people – almost half of the population – will be living through crisis levels of food insecurity as the country faces an impending famine.

Ukrainian President Adviser Daria Zarivna told “This idea was based on very simple logic. For now, Ukraine contributes more than 10 percent of the world’s corn exports, 15 percent of wheat and as far as I remember, around 50 percent of the world’s sunflower oil.

“Secondly, we have various different complicated issues and problems with the agricultural sector and Ukrainian farmers are in a very complicated situation but at the same time, we understand that the necessity to have Ukrainian agricultural production won’t decrease.

“So this is why it’s critically important to do something with it and at the same time, we understand that our international partners are interested in helping Ukraine.”

At the same, more than 10 months after Russia’s invasion of his country, Mr Zelensky was also trying to forge new diplomatic relationships with African countries, Ms Zarivna said, admitting these had not functioned as well as they should have done in the past.

In accordance with the scheme, Western countries pay for shipments of grain which are loaded onto Ukrainian ships, and cover the costs of transporting it to the African country of their choice, Ms Zarivna explained.

She added: “So, thanks to this strategy, with one ship, you can at the same time help the economy of two countries – Ukraine, which is suffering from a war, and the African countries which are suffering from hunger.”

So far, more than 30 countries and international organisations, including the UK, the US, Canada, Japan, Korea, and Qatar, have contributed to the Grain from Ukraine programme, with over £157million ($190 million) in donations raised.

Andriy Yermak, Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, added: “Now more than ever, Ukraine and its international partners must prioritise working together to prevent the worsening food crisis around the world. In Somalia, over 200,000 people are facing catastrophe-levels of food insecurity.

“People are starving to death and are in physical pain from hunger.

“Through Grain from Ukraine initiative, we hope to help to alleviate the suffering in Somalia and other African countries on the brink of starvation.”

Mykola Solskyi, Ukraine’s Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, added: “The food crisis in Somalia and other African countries has been exacerbated by ongoing conflict and natural disasters, such as drought and floods.

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“These challenges have disrupted food production and supply chains, leading to widespread food insecurity and malnutrition.

“We are committed to supporting the struggling people of Africa as they navigate this difficult time.”

Launching the initiative in November, Mr Zelensky said: “Ukraine is the victim of an illegal war of aggression by Russia and stands on the frontline of a conflict that will shape the 21st century.

“Even as the country struggles with food shortages, devastated farmland, and widespread blackouts, we will never forget our role as a responsible global citizen – especially having experienced famine as a nation ourselves.

“Africa is in desperate need of food and Ukraine stands ready to support vulnerable people in their hour of need.”

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