UN voices concern over slowdown of Black Sea grain shipments

United Nations, Jun 2 (IANS): The UN has voiced concern about the slowdown of grain shipments under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which allows the export of Ukrainian grain and other agricultural products from Black Sea ports.

"We are concerned about the continuous slowdown of the implementation of the Black Sea Initiative observed particularly in the months of April and May," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, on Thursday.

In May, 33 vessels departed Ukrainian ports, half of the number compared to April. Only three of those departed from the port of Pivdennyi in Yuzhny, Odesa province, one of the three Ukrainian ports covered in the initiative. Exports in May stood at 1.3 million metric ton of grains and other foodstuff, less than half of the previous month, he added.

Russia has informed of its decision to limit registrations to the port of Pivdennyi as long as Russian ammonia is not exported, said Dujarric.

Since May 24, the number of inspection teams at the Joint Coordination Centre has been reduced from three to two, and the limited registrations and reduced inspection teams contributed to the drop in the average daily inspection rate to three, the spokesman added.

The UN Secretariat has put forward practical suggestions to all parties at the strategic and operational level, and the world body will continue its intense engagement with the parties toward the full resumption of operations and continuation of the initiative, he said.

"In particular, we are looking for commitments on unconditional access of vessels to all three ports under the initiative, increased number of successful inspections completed per day and predictable registrations to avoid undue delay of vessels, exports of fertilisers, including ammonia, and the resumption of the Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline," Dujarric added.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative was signed separately by Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul with Turkey and the UN in July 2022. The export of Russian ammonia was referred to in the initiative, Xinhua news agency reported.

The initiative, initially in effect for 120 days, was extended in mid-November 2022 for another 120 days till March 18, 2023. At that point, Russia only agreed to extend the deal for 60 days, till May 18, 2023. On May 17, Russia agreed to extend the deal for another 60 days.

As a parallel agreement, Russia and the UN signed a memorandum of understanding on the facilitation of Russian food and fertiliser exports. However, little progress has been made on this part of the deal.


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Title: UN voices concern over slowdown of Black Sea grain shipments

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