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Head of UN World Food Program calls on Russia to unblock Ukrainian ports

KYIV. May 5 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The war in Ukraine and the blockade of Ukrainian ports by Russia, which unleashed this war, threaten the economic collapse of agriculture in Ukraine, the country that feeds 400 million people, David Beasley, the Executive Director of the UN World Food Program (WFP), said speaking via video link at the High-Level International Donor’s Conference for Ukraine in Warsaw.

"So we ask Russia: please, we will have famine all over the world if we do not open these ports and give passage to help people around the world. This is a critical issue for Ukraine. And most importantly, this is a critical issue for the rest of the world over the next 8-12 months and next year," Beasley said.

He explained that if the ports are not opened right now, that when the crop is harvested in July and August, there will be nowhere to store it, because the elevators and storage facilities are full.

The expert stressed that in this case the consequences would be worse than the currently observed increase in food prices, fuel prices, and the cost of freight.

"And we are seeing catastrophe after disaster. And we know what happens when we don’t reach the people ‘inside.’ It costs us 100 times more than ‘outside,’ we saw it in the Syrian war," he said, citing recent study of Germany.

Before the Russian military invasion, Ukraine monthly exported about 5 million tonnes of agricultural products through the ports of Odesa and Mykolaiv, but now, due to their naval blockade by the Russian Federation, it can transport about 500,000 tonnes of grain monthly.