June 2, 2023

The largest fleet carrying grain and other corn products since the start of the Russian invasion set sail from Ukrainian ports on Sunday, passing through the exploited waters of the Black Sea to Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The four ships that left one of the world’s granaries were carrying more than 160,000 metric tons (about 176,000 US tons) of agricultural products, according to the United Nations.

UN spokesman Ismini Palla said the ships shipped 6,000 tons of sunflower oil to Italy, 45,000 tons of meal to China, 66,000 tons of sunflower oil to Iran, and 6,000 tons of sunflower oil to Iran. 44,000 tons of corn. The city of Iskenderun, Turkey.

She said all ships will be anchored north of Istanbul and inspected by a joint coordination center, where high-level representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations work together to ensure the safe transportation of grain, food and fertilizers.

One ship departed from Odessa and three from the Ukrainian port of Chernomorsk, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry. An empty ship also entered Ukrainian territorial waters on Saturday, the first to arrive in Ukraine for loading, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, said in a tweet.

The operation is part of an agreement reached in late July that will allow more than 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian products to leave the struggling country and then be distributed around the world, generating revenue for Ukraine and helping curb a looming global hunger crisis .

Four other ships have left this week, carrying more than 80,000 metric tons of product to the UK, Ireland, Turkey and Lebanon. The Ukrainian embassy in Lebanon, where the first ship, the Razoni, is expected to arrive, told Reuters on Sunday that the ship was being delayed.

Mr Kubrakov said the government was gradually pushing the port to be able to handle more jobs, with the goal of having at least 100 ships a month in the near future.

Experts say the issues affecting the food market are far from being resolved, and the food crisis has grown to the point that no single intervention can resolve it.

Still, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the delivery of Ukraine’s food reserves was a “humanitarian imperative” and he hoped it would “bring much-needed stability and relief to global food security”.

Nimet Kiraç contributed reporting.

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