Ukraine: Guterres ‘strongly condemns’ Russian attacks on Odesa and other ports

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Ukraine: Guterres ‘strongly condemns’ Russian attacks on Odesa and other ports

In making its decision, Russia also withdrew safe passage guarantees for ships carrying grain and other foodstuffs navigating in the northwestern part of the Black Sea.

Over the past year, the Initiative has facilitated the export of more than 30 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain to global markets via three Black Sea ports, including Odesa.

Grain deal stalled

The Black Sea Initiative was agreed by Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye and the UN in Istanbul last July, along with a parallel accord between the UN and Russia on grain and fertilizer exports, known as the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

According to news reports, at least three people were killed during what was a third successive night of airstrikes on Wednesday into Thursday, targeting facilities in Ukrainian port cities.

At least 19 people were injured in Mykolaiv, a city close to the Black Sea, including a child, according to Ukrainian officials.

Head of communications for UN aid coordination office OCHA in Ukraine, Saviano Abreu, tweeted that the “horrific” attack on the city occurred right in the centre. Humanitarians are supporting families whose houses have been hit, and have provided emergency support including cash assistance. 

Russian contradiction

In a statement released by UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, UN chief António Guterres said the attacks “contradict” Russia’s commitments under the still active MoU, which states Russia “will facilitate the unimpeded export of food, sunflower oil and fertilizers from Ukrainian controlled Black Sea ports”.

“The Secretary-General also recalls that the destruction of civilian infrastructure may constitute a violation of international humanitarian law. These attacks are also having an impact well beyond Ukraine”, the statement continued.

Negative impact on prices

“We are already seeing the negative effect on global wheat and corn prices which hurts everyone, but especially vulnerable people in the Global South.”

Mr. Guterres said he would “not relent” in his bid to ensure Ukrainian and Russian food and fertilizer are available on international markets, linking this to ongoing efforts to combat global hunger and rising food prices worldwide.

Lifeline for world’s poorest

UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine, Denise Brown, also condemned the attacks, saying she was horrified by the images coming from Odesa of damage and destruction.

“It is the second day in a row that this civilian port, a crucial lifeline for Ukraine and for the poorest people in the world who depend on Ukrainian grain, has been severely damaged in massive strikes.” she said in a statement. 

“This is inhumane and against international humanitarian law,” she added, before calling for an end to the assaults.

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