Shipment courier

First grain shipment leaves Ukraine for war-torn Yemen

CAIRO (AP) — The first ship carrying grain from Ukraine to conflict-torn Yemen since the start of war in Europe left a Black Sea port on Tuesday, the United Nations food agency said. This decision will help alleviate one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

The World Food Program said the MV Karteria, with 37,000 tons of wheat on board, left the Ukrainian port of Yuzhny. The WFP-chartered ship will first stop in Turkey, where the grain will be ground into flour before sailing to Yemen, where more than 17 million people are facing acute hunger.

“The war in Ukraine was the straw that broke the camel’s back in Yemen in the context of protracted conflict. … It is paramount to get basic commodities back into the country, especially grains, for humanitarian and commercial purposes,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative in Yemen.

The UN agency said the grain will provide a 50-kilogram (110-pound) bag of wheat flour to nearly 4 million people that will last about a month and help WFP fill immediate aid gaps .

Russia’s war in Ukraine, which began in February, has been deeply felt in Yemen, where a long-running conflict has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises and pushed millions of Yemenis to the brink of starvation.

Yemen, the poorest Arab country, depends on direct imports of wheat flour – an essential staple in the diet of Yemenis – from Russia and Ukraine. According to the WFP, around 46% of Yemen’s wheat imports in 2021 came from Ukraine and Russia.

Yemen’s brutal civil war began in 2014, when Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized the capital of Sanaa and much of northern Yemen and forced the government into exile. A Saudi-led coalition went to war early the following year in an attempt to restore the internationally recognized government to power.

More than 150,000 people have been killed, including more than 14,500 civilians, in the conflict that has escalated into a regional proxy war between Saudi and Iranian rivals.