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First Humanitarian Food Aid Set to Leave Ukraine for Africa

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FILE - A harvester collects wheat in Zghurivka, Ukraine, Aug. 9, 2022. A ship docked in Ukraine Aug. 12, 2022, to pick up wheat for hungry people in Ethiopia, in the first food delivery to Africa under a U.N.-brokered plan to unblock grain trapped by Russ

A U.N.-chartered vessel being loaded with grain is set to transport the first shipment of humanitarian food from Ukraine to Africa.

The vessel, which docked in Ukraine Friday, will carry 23,000 tons of grain bound for Ethiopia. It’s part of a U.N.-backed plan to move grain trapped by Russia’s war on Ukraine and to help relieve a global food crisis.

Previous ships with grain were allowed to leave Ukraine under the deal but were not humanitarian, and their cargoes had been purchased by other nations or vendors.

Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s minister of infrastructure, wrote in a tweet that the newly docked vessel would also supply grain for Somalia and Kenya, which are also facing the worst drought in four decades.

“The wheat grain will go to the World Food Program’s operations in Ethiopia, supporting WFP’s Horn of Africa drought response as the threat of famine stalks the drought-hit region,” U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Friday.

The ship MV Brave Commander arrived Friday in Yuzhne, Ukraine, east of Odesa on the Black Sea coast. After being loaded with wheat it will travel to Djibouti, where the grain will be unloaded and sent to Ethiopia, according to the United Nations.

Meanwhile, two more ships left from Ukraine's Black Sea ports Saturday, said Turkey's defense ministry. So far, 16 cargo vessels have left the county under the U.N.-brokered agreement.

The Barbados-flagged Fulmar S left Ukraine's Chornomorsk port, carrying 12,000 tons of corn to Turkey's southern Iskenderun province, it said. The Marshall Island-flagged Thoe departed from the same port and headed to Turkey's Tekirdag, carrying 3,000 tons of sunflower seeds.

The statement added that another ship would depart from Turkey on Saturday to Ukraine to buy grains.

Ukraine's infrastructure ministry said Saturday that 16 ships carrying 450,000 tons of agriculture products had departed from Ukrainian sea ports since early August under the deal, which ensured safe passage for the vessels.

About 20 million tons of grain has been unable to leave Ukraine since Russia's February invasion of the country. Ukraine hopes to increase its maritime exports to more than 3 million tons of grain and other agriculture products per month in the near future.

On July 22, Kyiv and Moscow signed a landmark agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to unblock Black Sea grain deliveries.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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