The renewal of the international agreement on the export of Ukrainian cereals, which depends on a green light from Moscow, is crucial for millions of inhabitants of the Horn of Africa, warned the UN on Monday. The deal, which expires in July, has seen more than 32 million tonnes of grain shipped out of Ukraine.
Millions of residents in the Horn of Africa – where people are already starving – are depending on Russia’s green light to the Ukrainian grain export deal, which expires in mid-July, the EU has warned. UN on Monday June 26.
“If the Black Sea Initiative is not renewed, East Africa (will) be hit very hard,” said Dominique Ferretti, emergency specialist at the World Food Program’s Africa regional office ( WFP), during a videoconference from Nairobi.
“A number of countries depend on Ukrainian wheat. Without this wheat, food prices would increase significantly,” he warned, explaining that Ukraine has always been “the breadbasket” of Africa.
In July 2022, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations signed the Black Sea Grain Initiative to allow Ukrainian grain exports despite Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
After complicated negotiations, this agreement had been extended three times – the last time in May, for 60 days, until July 17. But on June 13, Russia again threatened to withdraw, considering that certain clauses on the export of Russian fertilizers had still not been respected despite successive UN commitments.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has also accused kyiv of using the maritime corridors provided for in this agreement to attack the Russian fleet with drones.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “worried” about the future of the agreement, and kyiv assured that he was “not very optimistic”.
Without renewal of the agreement, “households will no longer be able to meet their basic needs”, insisted Dominique Ferretti.
The World Food Programme, which helps people directly, would also be badly affected, with Ukraine being one of its main suppliers.
The agreement made it possible to ship more than 32 million tonnes of grain out of Ukraine by boat.
The organization does not have a plan B in place, but they are doing everything possible to pre-position food. It will nevertheless be forced to look for other suppliers if the extension of the agreement fails.
“We must be prepared for an increase in food insecurity” in the event of supply difficulties, underlined from Nairobi Brenda Lazarus, of the Subregional Office for Eastern Africa of the FAO, the agency of the UN for food and agriculture.
She explained that wheat occupies a large place in the diet of the populations of countries such as Somalia or Djibouti. The FAO is supporting local communities to help them replace wheat in the diet, but it’s a “very slow” process, the economist said.
The UN said last week that it had “averted famine” in the Horn of Africa thanks to the collection of 2.4 billion dollars for this region hit by a catastrophic drought due to “climate chaos”.
But the situation remains serious. The number of food insecure people has doubled since 2016 in East Africa (Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan), reaching the 60 million mark, said Dominique Ferretti , explaining that this food crisis was notably the result of conflicts, drought and floods.
According to the WFP representative, about 83,000 people, including 40,350 in Somalia and 43,000 in South Sudan, are currently in the “catastrophe” phase (phase 5), the highest of the food security classification (CIP). . “This means that on average these households eat once or twice a week,” he said.
The UN refuses for the moment to speak of generalized famine, but its leaders have affirmed on several occasions that populations are already dying of hunger.
Source: France 24