The first ship carrying grain from Ukraine to various parts of the world docked in the Horn of Africa in Djibouti, as areas of East Africa have been hit hard by droughts and deadly conflict.
Food security experts are calling this a drop in the bucket for the tremendous needs of the worst-hit countries such as Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. Although Ethiopia is the country receiving this first shipment to help the needy in its war-torn regions such as Tigray.
However, the flow of grain from Ukraine is expected to continue to other parts of the world, with another ship leaving for Yemen on Tuesday. The United Nations World Food Program said it is working on getting several ships out to nations in need.
According to WFP, this first shipment of grain will be sent by land to northern Ethiopia, where millions of people have been affected by the Tigray conflict in the country, a conflict which has now escalated.
“We have officially docked! The first WFP ship to transport Ukrainian grain since February has just arrived in Djibouti,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said on Twitter. “Well, let’s unload this wheat and take it to Ethiopia,” he added.
The UN agency said food insecurity and malnutrition are a major problem across Ethiopia, with an estimated 20.4 million people in need of food assistance.
Ukraine, one of the world’s biggest grain exporters, was forced to halt almost all shipments after Russia invaded the country in February, stoking fears of a global food crisis.
Exports of grain and other food and fertilizers from three Black Sea ports resumed earlier this month under a deal between Kyiv and Moscow, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July.
The agreement lifted the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports and set conditions for millions of tons of wheat and other grains to leave silos and ports.
According to the Joint Coordination Center that manages the maritime corridor, more than 720,000 tonnes of grain left Ukraine last week.
Earlier this month, WFP announced that the number of people at risk of famine in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa region had risen to 22 million.
“There is still no end in sight to this drought crisis, so we must raise the necessary resources to save lives and prevent people from plunging into catastrophic levels of hunger and starvation,” Beasley said at the time.
Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are experiencing their worst droughts in 40 years, and the United Nations World Meteorological Organization warned last week that the situation is likely to worsen with a fifth consecutive rainy season.
Four unprecedented rainy seasons killed millions of animals, destroyed crops and displaced 1.1 million people from their homes in search of food and water.
“Needs will remain high in 2023 and hunger is now a serious risk, particularly in Somalia,” where nearly half of the country’s 15 million people are experiencing hunger, WFP said in a statement earlier this month.