First shipment of food aid from Ukraine could move next week

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Around 30,000 tons of food aid will be shipped out of Ukraine’s ports next week, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Monday.

The wheat will be allowed to leave the country under a diplomatic agreement between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the U.N. to reopen three of the Ukraine’s ports despite its ongoing war with Russia. It will be the first shipment to leave Ukraine as humanitarian aid since Russia’s invasion, and will come after a commercial vessel called the Razoni carrying corn safely arrived in Turkey on Tuesday, en route to Lebanon.

The World Food Programme, a U.N. agency, will pay food giant Cargill $10.2 million to source the grain, deliver it to the port and load it on to a vessel.

The destination of the ship is unknown, but a U.N. official told POLITICO that countries such as Yemen and Ethiopia were being considered.

“Whether that is Yemen or Ethiopia, or somewhere, that also needs to be sorted out,” the official said. Ukraine typically provides a significant amount of supplies to the WFP, so reopening the Odesa region’s ports is crucial to its work in averting hunger and famine in the world’s most vulnerable countries.

The U.N. official said a WFP-chartered vessel should arrive in Odesa and would be loaded from August 10, if all goes to plan. “There are some delays because ships stuck there for months are [a] priority,” they wrote.

“To find a vessel is still the main obstacle for today for the Ukrainian grain corridor,” said Elena Neroba, business development manager at trading company Maxigrain.

Neroba said she understood the final destination would be Somalia.

The WFP and Cargill had no immediate comment.