More than half a million tonnes of grain have been exported from Ukraine through the Black Sea since the beginning of August, the United Nations reports
Since Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement with Turkey and the UN at the end of July to reopen the Black Sea route to Ukrainian grain ships trapped since the invasion of Ukraine, 36 crossings have already been approved.
Twenty-one ships departed from Ukraine to the Bosphorus, while 15 sailed through the strait to Ukraine. Twenty-seven ships were inspected in Turkey in accordance with the agreement.
It is estimated that more than 20 million tonnes of grain products have been trapped in Ukraine since the Russian invasion on 24 February. More than 560,000 tonnes, mainly maize (450,000 tonnes), sunflower meal (50,000 tonnes) and wheat (41,000 tonnes), have already been exported.
More than a quarter of the ships leaving Ukraine were destined for Turkey, 22 percent went to Iran and South Korea, 8 percent to China and 6 percent to Ireland, the UN said. A first ship left on Tuesday for Djibouti, in East Africa, with 23,000 tonnes of wheat for Ethiopia as part of the World Food Programme.
Ukraine, like Russia, is one of the most important grain exporters in the world. The blockade of millions of tonnes of grain since the start of the war caused a sharp rise in food prices in the poorest countries and raised fears of a global food crisis.
The UN reported that most of the ships that have now left are commercial ships, and are not sailing to countries under threat of famine. However, global grain prices have fallen since the agreement, benefitting all countries.