WFP Vessel Leaves Ukraine With Grain for Humanitarian Response in Yemen

Photo: WFP/Antoine Vallas/2022
Published August 30, 2022

SANA’A / ROME – A United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)-charted vessel departed today from the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Yuznhy (Pivdennyi) with wheat grain destined for the agency’s humanitarian response in Yemen.

This is the second maritime shipment of U.N. World Food Programme food assistance to leave Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict in February. The MV Karteria, carrying 37,000 metric tons of wheat grain, will stop first in Turkey, where the grain will be milled into flour. It will then be shipped to Yemen, where over 17 million people are struggling with severe hunger – a figure that is expected to rise in the coming months.

The grain will provide a 110 pound bag of wheat flour to nearly 4 million people for one month and will help the U.N. World Food Programme address immediate gaps in assistance.

“The war in Ukraine has been the last straw in Yemen against a backdrop of prolonged conflict, the resulting economic crisis and dwindling funds for humanitarian response,” said U.N. World Food Programme Representative and Country Director in Yemen Richard Ragan. “It is paramount to get commodities flowing back into the country and especially grain – for humanitarian and commercial purposes. This is vital to keep prices at bay.”

Getting Ukrainian grain to the U.N. World Food Programme’s humanitarian operations in Yemen will ensure a double benefit to both Ukraine’s economy and famine-risk populations in areas of the world hardest hit by the global food crisis such as Yemen. Yemen is particularly reliant on direct imports of wheat flour – a key staple in Yemenis’ diet – from Russia and Ukraine. An estimated 46% of Yemen’s 2021 wheat imports came from Ukraine and Russia.

The deterioration of global food security is caused by multiple factors with the impact of the Ukraine crisis, including the loss of Ukrainian’s grain on global markets as well as the impact on fuel and fertilizer prices, adding further pressure. This has now pushed this number of severely hungry people to a record 345 million in 82 countries.

There is no single solution to the global food crisis, but the unblocking of Ukraine’s seaborne exports will address some global supply disruptions and allow Ukraine to empty its grain storage silos ahead of the summer season harvest. The increasing traffic in and out of Ukraine’s port is a positive signal, but it remains far below pre-conflict averages.

This shipment is the product of strong collaboration between the government sector and the private sector, which is key in our response to the global food crisis. The shipment is possible thanks to generous contributions from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and the foundation of Howard G. Buffett, a long-time U.N. World Food Programme supporter who formerly served seven years as a Goodwill Ambassador.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.