UN chief visits Odesa, calls for 'massive and generous' support to ease global food crisis

Grain deal 'unprecedented' but 'still a long way to go,' says Guterres.

UN chief visits Odesa, calls for 'massive and generous' support to ease global food crisis

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday urged wealthier countries "to open their wallets and their hearts" for those bearing the brunt of global food crisis aggravated by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

Guterres visited the Ukrainian port city of Odesa to oversee the movement of grain, a day after he met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Lviv.

Accompanied by Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, Guterres inspected the loading of grain bound for global markets.

The military conflict that began in late February had disrupted global agricultural exports from Russia and Ukraine, two grain exporting powerhouses, pushing international prices.

However, as many as 25 ships loaded with thousands of tons of agricultural products have departed Ukraine since last month's landmark food export deal, brokered by Türkiye and the UN, opened up three Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

"It is time for massive and generous support so developing countries can purchase the food from this and other ports – and people can buy it," the UN chief said, adding that "each ship is also a vessel of hope" for the world’s most vulnerable people and countries.

He termed the export deal "unprecedented" but said there "is still a long way to go on many fronts."

"But let’s not forget that what we see here in Odesa is only the more visible part of the solution. 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.

"It is important that all governments and the private sector cooperate to bring them to market," he said.

Guterres is also scheduled to visit the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul, formed as part of the grain deal to carry out inspections, on Saturday.

Hüseyin Demir

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