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27 Nov, 2023 14:28

Russia delivers 25,000 tons of free wheat to Somalia

The East African country will become the first recipient of Moscow’s food aid initiative
Russia delivers 25,000 tons of free wheat to Somalia

A cargo ship carrying 25,000 tons of humanitarian wheat from Russia will arrive in Somalia in the next few days, the East African nation’s news agency, SONNA, has reported.

Russia’s ambassador to Djibouti and Somalia, Mikhail Golovanov, arrived in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Saturday, ahead of the arrival of the shipment, to present the food aid to the Somalian government, according to the state broadcaster.

Moscow has pledged to provide food assistance to African nations as part of an agreement announced by President Vladimir Putin at the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg in July.

Earlier this month, Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev stated that two shipments of free grain had left for Burkina Faso and Somalia, and that they would arrive in both countries by early next month.

Additional shipments to Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Mali, and the Central African Republic are scheduled to arrive by the end of the year. According to Patrushev, up to 200,000 tons of grains will be delivered to the six African countries facing food insecurity.

Arrangements for the supply of free wheat to African countries were put in place after Moscow refused to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The deal was initially brokered by the UN and Türkiye in July 2022 and was intended to facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain to world markets, particularly to poor countries, in exchange for lifting Western sanctions that prevented Russian agricultural exports. Moscow withdrew from the agreement in July, accusing Western countries of continuing to make it difficult to ship food and fertilizer.

Somalia will become the first recipient of the food donations since the launch of the initiative, according to the national broadcaster SONNA.

On Saturday, the Somali government thanked Moscow for its assistance, which it said would benefit thousands of families.

The East African country is experiencing a hunger crisis due to prolonged droughts. The United Nations food program has estimated that 4.1 million people in the country will face crises or acute levels of hunger by December 2023, while also announcing an imminent scale-down in humanitarian assistance due to a funding gap.