Grain ship to dock in Ukraine, leave for Africa

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Expectations were raised Friday that the first U.N. grain transport ship could soon leave Ukraine for Africa, as more Russian shelling hit the country’s east, changing Friday the war between hope and despair.

Approaching the middle of the year, the war has driven up food prices and left poorer countries with less and less hope of getting supplies from Europe’s granary. On Friday, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, announced, however, that the first shipment of the World Food Program for Africa was about to leave.

He said the ship would load at a port in Ukraine and leave for Ethiopia, saying “the cooperation of all the actors involved is key” to preventing food shortages and hunger around the world. This measure would be a major step in the food crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The ship, Brave Commander, would take more than 23,000 metric tons (27,500 short tons) of grain and export it to Ethiopia via Djibouti.

Although Ukrainian and Western officials have repeatedly spoken of the crucial role of grain shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports in averting a global food crisis, many of the first twelve ships that left the ports were destined for destinations in Turkey and Western Europe. Some analysts attributed this to the need to free up scarce docking space, saying ships that have been stuck in ports the longest were likely prioritized.

Ethiopia, along with neighboring Somalia and Kenya, is in the driest drought zone in four decades in the Horn of Africa. Thousands of people across the region have died of starvation or disease this year. Forecasts for the coming weeks indicate that, for the first time, a fifth consecutive rainy season will not materialize. Millions of livestock, the basis of many families’ wealth and food security, have died.

It makes any resumption of food shipments all the more welcome.

If the news provided a rare glimmer of hope from the bleakest environment, it was offset by unrelenting fighting in eastern Ukraine, where the war entered its 170th day. Specifically, the city of Kramatorsk, Donbas, was hit by 11 rockets overnight. Seven people died and 14 others were injured in the region, which remains without gas, running water and electricity.

“Three-quarters of the population of the region have already been evacuated, because the incessant shelling by the Russian army leaves no choice for civilians: it is to die of wounds, or of hunger and cold in the winter,” said Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko. he said on Ukrainian television.

The world also continued to worry about the threat of a nuclear disaster in eastern Ukraine, where shelling has hit the area, which is home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

Bombing near the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia facility continued overnight. Russian forces fired more than 40 rockets at the town of Marhanets, which is across the Dnieper River from the power plant. Three people were injured in the latest bombing, including a 12-year-old boy. The neighboring city of Nikopol was also shelled, said Valentyn Reznichenko, the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region.

The UN nuclear chief warned late Thursday that “very alarming” military activity at the nuclear plant could have dangerous consequences.

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, urged Russia and Ukraine, which blame each other for the attacks on the plant, to immediately allow nuclear experts to assess the damage and assess safety and security at the plant. ‘extensive nuclear complex where the situation “has been deteriorating”. very quickly.”

He pointed to the bombings and several explosions in Zaporizhzhia last Friday that forced the shutdown of the power transformer and two backup transformers, forcing the shutdown of a nuclear reactor.

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