Three more ships have been given the green light to leave Ukraine's Black Sea ports on Friday, carrying just over 58,000 tons of corn, in a move that will raise hopes further for the success of a UN initiative aimed at lowering prices of essential foods and easing the global crisis.
The Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) which is managing the Black Sea Grain Initiative, agreed between the UN, Ukraine, Russia and Türkiye, has authorized the departure of three vessels - two from the port of Chornomorsk and one from Odesa, carrying a total of 58,041 tons of corn through the designated "maritime humanitarian corridor".
The grain deal facilitated by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres following the Russian invasion, amidst concerns over the blockade of Ukraine's valuable food exports via the Black Sea, was signed between the parties on 22 July, in Istanbul.
The JCC announced five days later, was established in order to realize the Initiative, and the first commercial shipment took place just on Wednesday, when the Razoni was cleared to leave, bound for the Lebanese port of Tripoli.
© UNOCHA/Levent KuluThe first shipment of over 26,000 tons of Ukrainian food under a Black Sea export deal has been cleared to proceed towards its final destination in Lebanon.
Its role is to enable the safe transportation by merchant ships of grain and other foodstuffs and fertilizers from three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, to the rest of the world.
Corn heading to Türkiye, UK, Ireland
The Istanbul-based JCC, which is made up of representatives from the nations involved in the deal plus the UN, said in a press release that the merchant ship Polarnet, anchored in Chornomorsk port, would leave carrying a cargo of 12,000 metric tons of corn destined for Karasu in Türkiye.
The Rojen, also anchored in Chornomorsk, is due to leave on Friday with a cargo of 13,041 tons corn destined for Teesport, in the north of England, while the Navistar, anchored in Odesa, will set off with 33,000 tons of corn, bound for Ringaskiddy, Ireland.
First ship bound for Ukraine
The JCC said it had also authorized the movement, pending inspection, of the merchant vessel Fulmar S, inbound for Chornomorsk. Fulmar S is currently at anchorage at the inspection area near northwest of Istanbul.
"The three outbound vessels are estimated to depart in the morning from their respective ports", said the JCC. "Timings may be affected based on readiness, weather conditions or other unexpected circumstances. Inspection is expected to take place after arrival at the anchorage area in Turkish territorial waters."
The JCC said that "drawing from lessons learnt during the first movement of M/V Razoni, the JCC has authorized this movement as a second 'proof of concept', testing multi-ship operations in the corridor including an inbound ship. In addition, the corridor has been revised to allow for more efficient passage of ships while maintaining safety."
Freeing up the ports
The JCC acknowledged the need for commercial vessels which have been stranded in Ukrainian ports since February, to be allowed to depart to their "pre-defined destinations."
"Their movement will free up valuable pier space for more inbound ships to come in and carry food to global markets in line with the Initiative."
As per pre-agreed procedures, all participants coordinate with their respective military authorities, in Moscow, Kyiv and Ankara, and other relevant authorities to ensure the safe passage of commercial vessels, the JCC emphasized.
"The JCC will monitor closely the safe passage of the vessels through the humanitarian maritime corridor."