Relief, as first Africa-bound Ukrainian wheat shipment since Russia’s invasion finally arrives
After months of anxiety, hunger and negotiations, the first Africa-bound wheat shipment from Ukraine has finally arrived in the Horn of Africa.
The ship left Ukraine earlier this month, shortly after Ukrainian and Russian officials reached a deal to create a ‘grain corridor’ allowing wheat shippment to Africa and elsewhere.
The deal was long in coming and was mediated by Turkey and the United Nations, after months of backlash against Russia for blockading Ukrainian ports and preventing essential food shipments.
Recall that Business Insider Africa had reported that many African countries rely mainly on wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia to supplement their local sources. Unfortunately, Russia’s war on Ukraine severely disrupted wheat supply to Africa, thus exacerbating the continent’s food shortages even as food prices soared.
The Chairman of the African Union (AU), President Macky Sally of Senegal, even visited Ukraine and Russia to lobby leaders in both countries to end the war so that essential grains could be shipped to the countries that need them.
Now that the first shipment of wheat has arrived in the Horn of Africa, at least 1.5 million hungry people will benefit from it. This is according to the East Africa regional director for the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) Mike Dunford.
“The food on the [U.N.-chartered ship] Brave Commander will feed 1.5 million people, for one month in Ethiopia,” he said. “So, this makes a very big impact, for those people who currently have nothing and now WFP will be able to provide them with their basic needs,” he was quoted by Voice of America to have said.
Unprecedented drought in the region is causing acute famine in Ethiopia, Somalia and Northern Kenya. At least 22 million people are facing extreme hunger. The UN has described the situation as an impending humanitarian crisis.
Dunford disclosed that more wheat shipments from Ukraine would arrive in the region in the coming weeks and months.