NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The first shipment of grain as part of Ukraine’s own initiative to supply countries in need arrived in Djibouti Monday for delivery to neighboring Ethiopia amid the region’s worst drought in decades.
Ukraine’s embassy in Ethiopia confirmed that the “Grain from Ukraine” shipment of 25,000 tons is separate from a United Nations World Food Program effort that has funded humanitarian grain shipments from Ukraine.
A second ship with 30,000 tons of wheat will be heading to Ethiopia next week, while a third vessel is currently being loaded with 25,000 tons of wheat bound for Somalia, an embassy statement said.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky last month announced the initiative aimed at helping “countries the most struck by the food crisis.” Ukraine has said it plans to send more than 60 ships to Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Congo, Kenya, Yemen and other countries.
Millions of people in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya are going hungry due to drought following the fifth straight failed rainy season, while conflicts in Ethiopia and Somalia have worsened the crisis.
Ethiopia has not yet commented on the new grain shipment from Ukraine. But Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in August criticized reports of a U.N. effort to ship grain from Ukraine to Ethiopia as an attempt to paint “a picture that we are starved.”