A UN-chartered ship loaded with Ukrainian wheat has berthed in Djibouti, the Ethiopia capital, ready to wrestle the ground the country’s starvation scourge.
The bulk carrier MV Brave Commander, which is carrying 23,000 tonnes of grain, docked in the Horn of Africa port city, the UN’s World Food Programme said, two weeks after leaving a Black Sea port in Ukraine.
Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, was forced to halt almost all deliveries after Russia’s invasion of the country in February, raising fears of a global food crisis.
Exports of grains and other foodstuffs and fertilizers from three Black Sea ports resumed at the start of this month under a deal between Kyiv and Moscow that was brokered by the UN and Turkey in July. Since then, the United Nations reports that Ukraine has exported more than 1 million tonnes of grain.
Despite this, there are concerns the resumption of exports from Ukraine may not be enough to make a dent in the crisis of food insecurity and malnutrition in the drought-ravaged Horn of Africa.
Mike Dunford, East Africa regional director for the U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP), said that the food on the [U.N.-chartered ship] Brave Commander will feed 1.5 million people, for one month in Ethiopia.
However, the U.N. has said 2.4 million in Tigray alone are severely food insecure and that 20 million people across Ethiopia face hunger.
Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are experiencing their worst drought in 40 years. An unprecedented four failed rainy seasons have killed millions of livestock, destroyed crops, and forced 1.1 million people from their homes in search of food and water.
“Needs will remain high into 2023 and famine is now a serious risk, particularly in Somalia” where nearly half the population of 15 million is seriously hungry, the WFP said in a statement earlier this month.
“There is still no end in sight to this drought crisis, so we must get the resources needed to save lives and stop people plunging into catastrophic levels of hunger and starvation,” said WFP executive director David Beasley.
The WFP said 150,000 tons of additional wheat grain from Ukraine will be sent in the coming weeks thanks to funding provided by the United States. None of the grain will be sold commercially, meaning it will not lower food prices for ordinary Ethiopians.
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