While the World Food Programme (WFP), expressed optimism about a UN-brokered agreement to reopen Ukrainian ports for grain imports, it warned that the deal alone would not solve the global food crisis.
Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations signed a deal Friday to allow safe passage for ships entering and exiting three ports in the Black Sea that were blocked by Russia following Moscow’s invasion of 24 February.
Russia and Ukraine are both major grain exporters. The port blockade has kept tens of millions tonnes of grain inside the country. It has triggered protests in countries dependent on Black Sea grain, as well as Western sanctions against Russia.
Due to critical funding gaps and global inflation, the WFP has had to reduce aid to key hunger hotspots such as South Sudan and Yemen this year.
“We are optimistic that the deal will lead to an improvement in global food prices. A spokesperson for WFP said that countries dependent on grain supplies from Black Sea will likely feel the most positive effects.
However, she said that the current global crisis in food is not just a price problem. She also stated that climate shocks, man-made conflicts, and the COVID-19 pandemic are all likely to continue driving up global food insecurity, even if Friday’s deal is accepted.
Russian missiles struck Ukraine’s Odesa port on Saturday. This raised alarm that the deal might be canceled one day after being signed. However, the Kremlin has dismissed this concern, saying that the strike was only against military infrastructure.
On Monday, a senior official in Ukraine said that he hopes the first Ukrainian grain shipment will be from Chornomorsk by this week. He also expects shipments from other ports to follow within the next two weeks.
The WFP used to purchase more than half of its wheat from Ukraine before the conflict. According to the agency, 47 million people are facing “acute hunger” due to the current global crisis.
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