The United States plans to purchase 150,000 metric tons of Ukrainian grain for distribution to poor countries through the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP).
WFP head David Beasley told the AP during a visit to Kenya on August 20 that the final destinations for the grain have yet to be determined.
Beasley said a ship carrying 23,000 metric tons of Ukrainian grain is expected to dock in Djibouti on August 26 or 27. The shipment is expected to provide rations for 1.5 million people in the Horn of Africa for one month. People in the region are facing drought and deadly conflict.
It is “a perfect storm on top of a perfect storm, a tsunami on top of a tsunami,” Beasley said, noting the steep rise in food and energy prices driven partly by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine was the source of half of the grain the WFP used to feed some 130 million people last year, but shipments were stopped when Ukrainian ports were closed following Russia’s attack.
In July, Russia and Ukraine reached a UN-brokered agreement to finally restart grain exports. About 25 ships have since left Ukrainian ports carrying grain.
Beasley called on the Gulf states to follow the U.S. example and finance food aid, “particularly since these are their neighbors, these are their brothers.”
“Even if this drought ends, we’re talking about a global food crisis at least for another 12 months,” he added. “But in terms of the poorest of the poor, it is going to take several years to come out of this.”