The UN said that it aims to increase the number of inter-agency convoys providing aid to parts of Ukraine “close to the frontlines”, in support of work being carried out by local organisations and volunteers.
The UN humanitarian coordination office, OCHA, said in a press release that a seven-truck convoy had reached Vovchansk in the Kharkiv region – just five kilometres from the Russian border.
“This community has been heavily impacted by months of hostilities and the 4,500 people who remain there depend on humanitarian aid to meet their needs.”
The convoy supplied hygiene kits, blankets, solar lamps, sleeping bags and emergency shelter kits to more than 1,000 families, provided by the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF. The World Food Programme, WFP, also took part in the convoy and carried out a rapid assessment of markets in the area.
UN-brokered grain initiative continues apace
The UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative signed last July along with a Memorandum of Understanding, aimed at supplying markets with food and fertilizer amid global shortages and rising prices exacerbated by the Ukraine war, has allowed 17.8 million tonnes to reach millions in need worldwide.
The critical food supplies, mostly from farms in Ukraine heavily disrupted by the continued fighting in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion last year, have reached 43 countries since August – more than 40 per cent of them low and middle-income nations, the initiative’s Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) said in a Note to Correspondents on Wednesday. In December, exports through Ukraine’s Black Sea ports rose to 3.7 million metric tonnes, up from 2.6 million in November, and in just the last two weeks, nearly 1.2 million metric tonnes have left port.
“However, unfavourable weather conditions both in Odesa ports as well as in Turkish inspection areas have curbed some movements in the last week”, the JCC said.
Ports of call
To date, China has led the way in terms of receiving exports through the grain deal mechanism, based in Turkey’s largest city – the gateway to Asia and Europe, Istanbul. Spain has been the second most common destination, with Türkiye itself, third.
Nearly 44 per cent of the wheat exported has been shipped to low and lower-middle-income countries – 64 per cent to developing economies, the JCC reported. The UN’s World Food Programme bought eight per cent of the total wheat exported thanks to the deal last year, in support of its humanitarian operations in hunger-struck places around the world.
Over 1,300 voyages have been enabled so far by the JCC team – consisting of officials from the UN, Russia, Türkiye and Ukraine.
“Currently, there are more than 100 vessels in Turkish territorial waters connected to the Initiative, 32 are waiting for inspection, while the rest have applied to participate in the Initiative. Since November, the JCC has been deploying three inspection teams daily. So far, this month, the teams conclude an average of 5.3 inspections per day. In the last two weeks, the average waiting time of vessels between application and inspection is 21 days,” said the JCC.
The UN is urging all parties to work to remove obstacles for the reduction of the backlog and improve operational efficiencies within the JCC. The Initiative also calls for the facilitation of safe navigation for exports of fertilizers, including ammonia.
“However, the shipment of ammonia from the Ukrainian ports has not yet begun. Ammonia, a key ingredient in fertilizer production, is urgently needed on the market to bring these prices down and make it more affordable.”
Negotiations on how to get ammonia through the Togliatti/Yuznhy pipeline are ongoing.