Africa-Press – Eswatini. A ship today made the first shipment of wheat in Ukraine for food aid in Ethiopia, the first delivery of food to Africa under the UN-brokered plan to unlock grain held in that country.
For months, fighting and a Russian blockade caused grain produced in Ukraine, known as the world’s breadbasket, to be held in silos, driving up food prices and leading to famine in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. .
In recent days, several ships loaded with grain have left Ukrainian ports under the new agreement — except that most of the shipments were animal feed and were destined for Turkey or Western Europe.
However, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, announced that the first shipment of the World Food Program (WFP) of humanitarian aid to Africa would take place today and that after loading the ship it would depart. In the afternoon, the website MarineTraffic showed the ship sailing towards the south of Ukraine.
Charles Michel said that the ship loaded with grain would go to Ethiopia, stressing that “the cooperation of all the actors involved is essential” to alleviate food shortages and hunger around the world. This shipment represents, according to the same official, only a small part of the approximately 20 million tons of cereals held in Ukraine.
The ship is due to dock in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa.
Ethiopia, along with neighboring Somalia and Kenya, is facing the most severe drought recorded in the last 40 years in the Horn of Africa region. Thousands of people across the region die of hunger or disease this year.
Forecasts for the coming weeks indicate that, for the first time, a fifth consecutive rainy season will not happen. Millions of animals, the basis of wealth and food security for many families, died.
“Millions of families will struggle to cope with these shocks” in Ethiopia, according to a new assessment by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network. “Food aid needs are at record levels, with up to 15 million people in need of assistance,” he said.
While a shipment has no major effect on the crisis, WFP regards it as an “important step” in bringing Ukrainian grain to the worst-affected nations.
The news of this shipment, which brought a rare light of hope, was dimmed by the incessant fighting in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas, where much of the fighting is concentrated, at a time when almost six months of war between Russia and to Ukraine.
The city of Kramatorsk was hit by 11 rockets overnight. Seven people died and another 14 were injured in and around the city, which remains without gas, running water and electricity.