A first humanitarian ship chartered by the UN to supply Africa with Ukrainian cereals left the port of Pivdenny in southern Ukraine on Tuesday 16 August 2022. Loaded with some 230,000 tonnes of Ukrainian cereals, it is to be delivered to Ethiopia via the port of Djibouti. Dependent on Russian and Ukrainian wheat exports, Africa has faced unprecedented food shortages and insecurity since the conflict between the two supplier countries.
This state of scarcity, which is causing price inflation on African markets, motivated Macky Sall, chairman of the African Union, to travel to Russia last June to meet President Vladimir Putin in order to find a solution to this crisis. In July, agreements were signed on the exportation of Ukrainian cereals between Kiev and Moscow, mediated by Turkey and under the aegis of the UN. Since the signing of the agreements, the first shipment of food aid left Ukraine earlier this week for the Horn of Africa.
“The ship Brave Commander with grain for Africa has left the port of Pivdenny. This morning the cargo ship left for the port of Djibouti, where the food will be delivered to consumers in Ethiopia upon arrival,” the Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry said on Tuesday 16 August.
According to the World Food Program (WFP), this shipment will “meet the needs of about 1.5 million people for one month”. This is considered a grain of sand in the sea, as the WFP estimates that 20 million people are hungry in this part of Africa. Moreover, aware of the shortage of this cargo ship, the Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure, Oleksandre Koubrakov, said he hoped that “two or three” additional ships chartered by the UN would follow in the near future.
People in the Horn of Africa are threatened by severe famine caused by four consecutive seasons of missed rains. According to the WFP, this drought threatens the risk of famine mainly in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya where nearly 20 million people are affected. The UN estimates that approximately 345 million people in 82 countries are currently facing severe food insecurity worldwide. While up to 50 million people in 45 countries are at risk of starvation without humanitarian assistance.