UN warns of new threat to global food security after Russia limits Ukrainian grain shipments

UNITED NATIONS (AP) β€” Warning of a new threat to global food security, the United Nations said Thursday that Russia is limiting the number of vessels allowed to pick up Ukrainian grain at Black Sea ports as part of its campaign to get Kiev to open a pipeline for a key fertilizer ingredient to reach world markets.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric expressed grave concern that only 33 ships left Ukrainian ports in May, half the number compared to April, and that exports of grain and other foodstuffs totaled just 1.3 million metric tons last month, less than half of the previous month’s amount. .

He said that Russia had informed the center in Istanbul coordinating the arrivals, departures and inspections of vessels involved in the Black Sea Grain Initiative “of its decision to limit registrations in the port of Yuzhny as long as the ‘ammonia is not exported, and it is not currently’.

Ammonia is a key ingredient in fertilizers and Moscow wants Ukraine to open a pipeline from the Russian city of Togliatti to the Ukrainian port of Odessa which it used before the war to ship ammonia to global customers.

Turkey and the UN negotiated the groundbreaking initiative with Russia and Ukraine last July, paving the way for Ukrainian grain exports from three of its main Black Sea ports: Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.

In a separate memorandum, the United Nations said it would work to overcome obstacles to Russian food and fertilizer shipments, something UN trade chief Rebeca Grynspan has been trying to do for months. but Moscow criticized the lack of results.

To reinforce the failure of its fertilizer exports, Russia unilaterally decided in March to renew the grain agreement for 60 days instead of the 120 days provided for in the agreement. And just before it expired, in another example of Moscow’s tightrope policy, it agreed on May 17 to another two-month extension until July 17.

Following Russia’s February 24, 2022 invasion of Ukraine, one of the world’s major breadbaskets, global food prices soared, hitting poorer developing countries particularly hard.

After the July agreements, food prices began to fall, but Dujarric warned that “world hunger hotspots are rising and the specter of food inflation and market volatility lurks everywhere.” the countries”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted on Wednesday that the port of Yuzhny is blocked and more than 1.5 million tonnes of agricultural products are waiting there to be shipped to at least 10 countries including Turkey, China, Egypt and Bangladesh.

He urged everyone to put pressure on Russia to unblock the food supply saying: “Obviously the less food there is in these countries, in these regions, the higher the food prices, the more the people of these countries lose of their family budget”.

Dujarric noted that in May only three ships left the port of Yuzhny.

He said that since May 24, the number of teams inspecting ships has been reduced from three to two. This, added to the slowdown in the registration of ships, creates a serious situation.

The UN has put forward practical suggestions “at the strategic and operational level” and will continue to engage with Russia and Ukraine, Dujarric said.

β€œIn particular, we are seeking commitments on unconditional vessel access to the three ports under the initiative, an increased number of successful inspections carried out per day and predictable check-ins to avoid undue delay of vessels, exports fertilizers, including ammonia, and the takeover of the Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline,” said Dujarric.

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