KYVIV – A UN-chartered vessel loaded with grain left Ukraine for Africa on Tuesday after an agreement was reached to ease a global food crisis, the transport ministry said.
The MV Brave Commander left the Black Sea port of Pivdennyi and will travel to Djibouti “for delivery to Ethiopia”, the infrastructure ministry said on Telegram.
The ship has 23,000 tons of wheat on board.
It is the first ship chartered by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to leave Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February, and the government hopes two or three similar shipments will soon follow.
Ukraine and Russia are two of the largest grain exporters in the world.
Kyiv and Moscow agreed last month to a UN-brokered deal with Turkey to unblock grain shipments from the Black Sea after the Russian invasion.
The deal lifted the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports and established safe corridors through naval mines laid by Kyiv.
The Port Authority of Ukraine announced that a total of five ships with a total cargo volume of 110,000 tons left Ukraine on Tuesday.
The first grain merchant ship set sail on August 1. Since then, 21 ships have left Ukrainian ports, the port authority said in its statement.
A record 345 million people in 82 countries face acute food insecurity and up to 50 million people in 45 countries are on the brink of starvation and risk tipping over the brink without humanitarian assistance, according to WFP.
“We definitely expect more ships to leave Ukrainian ports to help people around the world,” Marianne Ward, WFP Ukraine’s deputy director, told reporters as the ship was loaded over the weekend.
“This is expected to be just the first of many humanitarian ships to leave ports,” she said.
Later Tuesday evening, the United States announced that it would provide an additional $68 million to the WFP.
The funds will be used “to purchase, transport and store up to 150,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat in response to the global food crisis,” Samantha Powers, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said in a statement.
- Editor / additional report by AFP