Humanitarian crisis looms

The whole world, especially developing countries, are feeling the pressure of reduced fertiliser and food exports from Ukraine and Russia. Photo: Getty Images.

United Nations humanitarian workers have issued a fresh alert about the “enormous need” to push food and fertiliser exports out of war-torn Ukraine.

The UN is concerned about the “rising and alarming levels of food insecurity” being experienced globally.

Amin Awad, UN Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, says they are making every effort to secure the release of grain stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

He says it is equally important for the world’s farmers is a secure supply of fertiliser from Russia, which is a major world producer.

Leading the discussions are top UN officials Martin Griffiths – the Organization’s Emergency Relief Coordinator – and Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the UN Trade and Development agency, UNCTAD.

Awad says the negotiations are going on but there are a lot of details and shuttling between Moscow and other countries that have concerns.

“But there’s no clear-cut emerging solution right now because it’s a board of puzzles that they have to move it together.”

There are no sanctions on food and fertiliser humanitarian exports from Russia but Grynspan is working with financial institutions and Western officials to see how transactions with the country can resume.

The UN estimates about 1.5 billion people are in need of food and fertilisers from Russia and Ukraine.

Awad hopes negotiations “really go in a smooth manner and be concluded as soon as possible” to remove the blockade of ports and ensure the resumption of fertiliser and food exports takes place, before there is “another crisis in hand.”

Although humanitarian agencies have explored different ways of transporting grain from Ukraine to the wider world, the only viable solution is by sea, given the huge amount of cereals and other essential foodstuffs produced.

Awad says rail transportation or trucking cannot manage the volumes and were fraught with logistical problems.

“So, it really has to be a maritime movement … to export 50 to 60 million tonnes of food out to the world.”


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