A mother feeds her severely malnourished child at a camp for displaced people in the Afar region of Ethiopia in February 2022. (© Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)
The first shipment of grain from Ukraine to transit through the Black Sea since Russia’s unprovoked invasion arrived in Africa on August 30 and will help feed people in the Horn of Africa.
The approximately 23,000 metric tons of Ukrainian wheat was delivered through the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) with assistance from the US government. This amount of grain could make over 60 million loaves of bread.
The cereals will be distributed to communities in the Horn of Africa who are facing severe hunger after four consecutive drought seasons.
“Ukrainian agricultural products are essential to global food security,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
Since February, the United States has provided more than $5.4 billion in humanitarian assistance to scale up emergency food security operations in food-insecure countries around the world, Blinken said.
Delivered via the United Nations World Food Program
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on August 16 that it would provide an additional $68 million in US funding to the WFP to help respond to the global food crisis.
“This assistance is critical,” USAID Administrator Samantha Power said when announcing the purchase. “Before Russia’s large-scale invasion, Ukraine was one of the main suppliers of cereals to the WFP and the fourth largest commercial exporter of wheat.”
“Opening the Black Sea ports is the single most important thing we can do right now to help the world’s hungry,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said Aug. 16.
Immediate delivery of food is essential. The WFP describes 2022 as a year of unprecedented famine. The organization says:
- 828 million people go to bed hungry every night.
- 345 million people in 82 countries face acute food insecurity.
- 50 million people in 45 countries are facing starvation conditions.
Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports following its February 24 invasion has trapped more than 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain inside the country for months, exacerbating the world’s worst food crisis. has known for decades, USAID said.
The United States supports the Turkey-UN brokered deal between Ukraine and Russia to resume Ukrainian agricultural exports through the Black Sea. The State Department is “closely monitoring Russia’s compliance with the terms of the agreement,” Blinken said.
Humanitarian leaders have warned that a global food crisis is worsening due to climate change, conflict and supply chain disruptions COVID-19[FEMALE[FEMININE
Even with ships now leaving Ukrainian ports, Ukraine’s agricultural sector, which accounts for almost 11% of Ukraine’s GDP and 20% of the workforce, remains extremely vulnerable as a direct result of the Kremlin’s brutal war.
In July, USAID launched a $100 million initiative to support Ukrainian agricultural exports and help alleviate the global food security crisis.
Blinken reiterated his call for Russia to immediately end its war against Ukraine, which he said would “do a lot to deal with the recent spike in global food insecurity.”