The UN-brokered Black Sea Initiative, aimed at ensuring the flow of grain, foodstuffs and fertilizer amid global shortages exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, has now allowed the safe export of more than 30 million tons.
That was the message conveyed by the UN Humanitarian Affairs chief Martin Griffiths to a meeting held in Istanbul, to discuss the future of the Initiative, which remains fragile.
Senior officials from the signatories to the deal, Russia, and Ukraine, together with officials of the UN and Türkiye, which mediated the agreement, attended the meeting.
In a press note issued by the UN Spokesperson’s Office on the meeting, Griffiths congratulated the parties to the deal – who also run the Joint Coordination Centre hub, based in Istanbul – on reaching the 30 million metric tons mark from Ukraine, and “reiterated the importance of the Initiative for global food security”.
The UN relief chief also recognized the important contribution of food and fertilizer exports from Russia.
The meeting discussed the recent proposals made by the UN to advance the deal, namely the resumption of the Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline, the longer extension of the Initiative, improvements at the JCC, “for stable operations and exports, as well as other issues raised by the parties.”
“The parties presented their views and agreed to engage with those elements going forward”, said the Spokesperson’s Office.
Griffiths stressed that the United Nations would “continue to work closely with all sides to achieve the continuation and full implementation of the Initiative, in pursuit of their broader shared commitment to addressing global food insecurity.”
Ukraine has been supplying more than half of the World Food Program’s total global wheat procurement in the last two years.
As talks have continued in the past few months about extending the deal, exports have dipped by nearly 30 per cent, with JCC inspection rates dropping significantly to an average of 2.9 completed inspections daily, for the month of May.
As per the latest update from the Office of the UN Coordinator for the deal, the UN and Türkiye’s delegation were working closely with Ukraine and Russia, aiming to facilitate movements and inspections of inbound and outbound ships, “within the framework of the Initiative and agreed procedures, while discussions for the future of the Initiative continue.”
The Black Sea Initiative, which provides a safe maritime humanitarian corridor for shipping out vital food and fertilizer exports from designated Ukrainian sea ports, came into effect on July 22 last year.
As Russia continues to press hard with its aggression on Ukrainian territories, the progress of the initiative remains fragile and price pressures remain.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, who took part in the Istanbul talks, demanded that the deal should be extended for a longer period and expanded.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu was quoted as saying that the grain deal could be extended for at least two months.
While food prices have gone down from their all-time high at the start of the war, they are still high compared to pre-crisis levels, according to UNCTAD’s recent report.
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