October 1, 2022

Cabinet of the Ministry of Ukraine announced recently that it will compensate the governments of Ethiopia and neighboring Somalia for about $11.4 million worth of wheat, Mogadishu-based Shabelle Media reported on Tuesday.

The Kyiv Independent, a pro-government Ukrainian media outlet, registered that Ethiopia will receive 50,000 metric tons of free wheat on Saturday, translation the official statement of the cabinet ministry on which the Shabelle Media report appears to be based.

The shipments appear to be part of a plan to export Ukrainian wheat, on which much of Africa and the Middle East depends, orchestrated by the World Food Program (WFP), a United Nations agency. As Ukraine is in communication with the WFP, which leases cargo ships, the extent of cooperation between Ukraine and recipient countries remains unclear.

Ukraine’s crops and grain shipments have been threatened for months by the expansion of Russia’s eight-year invasion of the country that began in February. While Russia illegally colonized Ukraine’s Crimea region and began supporting pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbass region in 2014, Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced a dramatic escalation of Russian military involvement in the country in February, arguing that Ukraine has “no tradition” of being a sovereign state and “entirely created by Russia”.

While Western media have invested heavily in reporting on the Ukraine war, they have done relatively little to cover Ethiopia’s brutal civil war, which observers say has descended into acts of ethnic cleansing and potential genocide, including the blockade and starvation of the country’s Tigray region. , about 6 million people.

The total shutdown of infrastructure, imports and communications into and out of Tigray, supported by Eritrea, has created what United Nations experts have condemned as a very real possibility of famine.

The leader of Ethiopia’s attack and potential genocide in Tigray, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. His award was not revoked in light of his call for war against the people of Tigray – and, more specifically, the former ruling Marxist political party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front ( TPLF) – or widespread reports of atrocities committed by Ethiopian forces.

In addition to civil war, Ethiopia and Somalia are suffering from food shortages due to severe drought, which has left this year’s harvest insufficient. The United Nations has estimated that as many as 22 people in the Horn of Africa region, where those countries are located, are at risk of starvation.

Ukrainian authorities confirmed the departure of a ship carrying 30,000 tons of wheat to Ethiopia this weekend.

“Barker IKARIA ANGEL, chartered by the UN World Food Program, sailing under the flag of Panama, carrying 30,000 tons of wheat, sailed this morning from the port of Chornomorsk to the port of Djibouti, through which humanitarian cargo arrives in African regions. “, the state newspaper Ukrinform announced on Saturday.

Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov told a state-run agency that Ukraine was sending grain to the country to avoid a “food catastrophe.”

Shabelle Media reported on Tuesday that Ukraine will not take payment for wheat worth about $11.4 million from Ethiopia, possibly from Abiy’s government or Somalia, promising to reimburse them. The compensation is significant given Abi’s ties to the Russian government. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, recently. Junereceiving a warm welcome, albeit without vocal support for the war in Ukraine.

Russia invested heavily in diplomacy with African countries, especially those that maintained friendly ties with the Soviet Union. Ukrainian officials have had little success trying to find support in the region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly spent months trying to persuade the African Union to address its leaders and, when he finally secured a video call in June, only four heads of state tuned in live, forcing their subordinates to listen instead. according to French newspapers Le Monde.

Le Monde speaking to anonymous diplomats familiar with Ukraine’s efforts, he revealed that African leaders seemed interested in only one basis for contact with the country.

“I don’t know what exactly he expects from us, but our priority remains the procurement of grains and fertilizers,” said an anonymous diplomat. The French newspaper noted that the remark was almost identical to one previously made by Senegalese President Macky Sall about the Russian invasion: “We are not really in a debate about who is right and who is wrong. We just want access to grain and fertilizer.”

The first ship to leave Ukraine for Ethiopia docked in Djibouti, a small country bordering Ethiopia, at the end of August.

According to the WFP, 7.4 million people in Ethiopia are to face “severe hunger” thanks to the ongoing drought, and another 13 million face food shortages thanks to the civil war. Neither the Ukrainian government’s statements nor the African report on free grain indicate whether the WFP will be in charge of distributing the food once it arrives in Ethiopia or whether Abiy’s government will control it, but past shipments have arrived in WFP warehouses in Ethiopia, outside the Tigray region.

Access to Tigray, where the worst of the food crisis is believed to occur, is not guaranteed; UN officials have regularly complained about the lack of access to the region. World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus – an ethnic Tigrayan and member of the TPLF – told reporters that Ethiopia would not even allow him to send food or money to his family.

“I will tell you my story. I have many relatives there. I want to send them money. I can’t send them money. They are starving, I know. I can’t help them,” Tedros said in August. “I can’t do that because they are completely closed. I want to talk to them. I haven’t talked to them in a while. I can’t talk to them. I don’t even know who is dead and who is alive.”

Tedros has repeatedly argued that the disproportionate attention Ukraine’s fighting is receiving compared to Tigray’s is racist.

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