The African Union (AU) welcomed on Saturday July 23 the agreement signed between Russia and Ukraine to unblock grain exports, a “welcome development” for the continent which faces an increased risk of famine. .
This agreement is “a response” to the visit to Russia in June by the Senegalese head of state Macky Sall, current chairman of the AU, and the chairman of the AU commission, the Chadian Moussa Faki Mahamat, who had emphasized to Vladimir Poutine “the urgency of the return of cereals from Ukraine and Russia to world markets”, adds the organization in a press release.
Russia-Ukraine: the balancing act of Macky Sall, voice of Senegal and the AU
In a tweet, Macky Sall also congratulated Turkish Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who hosted the talks in Istanbul, Russian Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky for the agreement. “That was the objective of the mission I led to Sochi on June 3,” he said.
I congratulate the Presidents @RTErdoganPutin and @ZelenskyyUa as well as the SG of the UN, for the signing this July 22 in Istanbul, of the Agreements on the export of cereals and agricultural products.
This was the objective of the mission I led to Sochi on June 3.
— Macky Sall (@Macky_Sall) July 23, 2022
The agreement should make it possible to export between 20 and 25 million tonnes of grain blocked in Ukraine. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia – two countries that provide 30% of world wheat exports in particular – has led to a surge in the price of cereals and oils, hitting hard the African continent, very dependent on these countries for its supply.
This rise in prices has worsened the situation of countries already facing a food crisis, particularly in the Horn of Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti) which is experiencing its worst drought since 40 ans.
“Alleviating Extreme Hunger”
The NGO International Rescue Committee (IRC) hailed Friday a “first step towards alleviating the global food crisis”. “The lifting of these blockades will go some way to alleviating the extreme hunger faced by more than 18 million people in East Africa, of whom 3 million are already facing catastrophic hunger conditions”, underlined in particular the organization’s emergency director for East Africa, Shashwat Saraf, in a statement.
“The next important step must be to fully fund the humanitarian response in the region, in order to avert the worst effects of the drought and prevent an unprecedented catastrophic famine from completely engulfing the region by the end of summer,” he added.
The agreement signed Friday between Russia and Ukraine provides in particular for the establishment of “secure corridors” in order to allow the circulation in the Black Sea of merchant ships, which Moscow and kyiv undertake “not to attack”, according to a person responsible for Nations united.