Istanbul, Aug 20 (EFE).- United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said he was “moved” after taking part in the inspection of a wheat-loaded vessel in Istanbul Zeyport on Saturday as part of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) humanitarian drive to help people at risk of famine in the Horn of Africa.
The Brave Commander, a UN-chartered ship loaded with 23,000 metric tonnes of Ukrainian grain, is heading for the port of Djibouti, in East Africa.
“So moving to see in Istanbul the WFP ship Brave Commander loaded with tons of Ukrainian wheat destined for much-needed hunger relief in the Horn of Africa,” Antonio Guterres said.
“I salute all those involved in this amazing humanitarian operation,” he added.
Guterres was in Istanbul Saturday for an inspection of the UN-chartered vessel at the Joint Coordination Center (JCC), which is overseeing Ukrainian grain exports.
The UN secretary-general added that he was deeply moved when he witnessed another ship — thought to be Invincible II, a Marshall Islands-flagged freighter with a 56,000 ton-capacity heading for the port of Chornomorsk, in Ukraine — preparing to cross the Bosphorus.
Invincible II is the largest vessel to sail towards Ukraine to be loaded with grain after export goods remained trapped for months when Russia launched its full-blown offensive in February.
Guterres boarded the Invincible II to witness the JCC inspection, the Turkish defense ministry reported.
On Friday, Guterres visited the Ukrainian Black Sea city of Odesa, one of the three sea ports being used to export grain under a UN-backed deal.
The secretary-general warned of the importance of ensuring Ukrainian and Russian food products can reach the global market.
“Getting more food and fertilizer out of Ukraine and Russia is crucial to further calm commodity markets and lower prices,” he added, according to a UN statement.
“The other part that is also important, that we have been defending, relate to the unimpeded access to the global markets of Russian food and fertilizer, which are not subject to sanctions,” Guterres added.
“Without fertilizer in 2022, there may not be enough food in 2023,” the UN chief said.
After heated negotiations, on 22 July, Ukraine and Russia signed a landmark UN-backed deal sponsored by Turkey on a safe corridor from Odesa to pave the way for the export of 20 million tons of grain that had been blocked in Ukraine since February when Russia launched its full-blown offensive.
The months-long trading blockade and the fact Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters has triggered a global food crisis that has affected Middle Eastern and African nations predominantly.
Since 1 August, 27 ships carrying 656,000 tons of corn, sunflower, wheat and soybeans have left Ukraine for various destinations in Europe and East Asia and Africa, according to the JCC.EFE