The United Nations had been hoping for the first ship to leave Ukraine’s Odesa port with grain bound for global markets on Thursday, but procedural details for safe passage are still being worked out, the organization’s chief aid coordinator said Thursday.
Martin Griffiths, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, helped broker a deal between Kyiv and Moscow — signed in Istanbul — to facilitate vital grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports to avoid a global hunger crisis.
“Getting the procedures is an essential precondition to safe movements of ships. So it’s no surprise that we haven’t seen a ship move yet,” he told reporters in New York on Thursday.
“We had been hoping to see that happen, even today or tomorrow. But we can only see that happen safely,” he said.
He noted that the parties need to get the exact location of safe passage corridors “absolutely nailed down,” adding “I think we’ll see this very quickly.”
“It has to do with what are the exact coordinates of the channels,” he continued. “There’s a general reference in the agreement. We need exact coordinates of the channels.”
Even still, Griffiths hailed the agreement, which swiftly saw the opening of a Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul, as “the most rapid stand up of an operation that I can think of” in his experience at the UN.
Russia’s attack on Odesa on Saturday, the day after the deal was signed, was “a reminder that we had no time to waste,” he added.
Also delaying the exports is the commercial side of the operation, as there is “a lot of detail that’s necessary to share” with shipping and insurance companies, he continued.
“This is as much about price as it is about availability of food […] if ships move without the right procedures to approving those movements, then they are at risk. And the commercial sector would be right not to wish to move,” Griffiths said.
“My information on the commercial viability of it from colleagues in Istanbul is consistently that there is an appetite for this and there is at a reasonable price,” he continued.
July 28, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news – CNN