Odessa, Ukraine, August 1, 2022 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) welcomes news that the first grain shipment since February left Ukraine’s Black Sea Port today after a deal reached last week set the parameters for freeing regular exports of up to 20 tons of wheat awaiting export. This shipment is the first step in providing relief to a growing global hunger crisis — one that is significantly worsened by the ongoing war in Ukraine blocking key food items from reaching the world market.
Marysia Zapasnik, Ukraine Country Director at the IRC, said, “I was relieved to see this shipment leave Odessa this morning. This is the first of many lifelines needed to ease the global food crisis and help the millions of people at risk of starving around the world. However, we cannot forget that this blockade should never have happened in the first place. Preventing food from leaving Ukraine has hurt the hungry, especially those suffering a looming famine in East Africa, where many are already dying of hunger, most of them children. Now, these shipments must be guaranteed consistent safe passage – something we are particularly concerned about given Odessa port has been attacked twice just in the last week. The international community must ensure regular and predictable food shipments urgently reach those on the brink of starvation and that Ukraine’s farmers are able to safely grow and transport crops to the ports.”
The IRC is responding to the crisis in Ukraine working directly and with local partners and local civil society to reach those people most in need. We are providing cash to vulnerable families to cover their most basic needs and non-food items like blankets, nappies, and soap, to displaced families. We are supporting local health services that are currently overwhelmed and providing essential protection services to women and children. The IRC is urgently preparing for winter as many families are living in houses damaged by the fighting and have no access to electricity or gas for heating.