- International leaders attend the summit in person
- The summit coincides with the Stalin-era famine memorial
- The initiative adds to the UN export plan
KYIV, Nov 26 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy held a summit with allied nations in Kyiv on Saturday to launch a plan to export $150 million of grain to countries most vulnerable to famine and drought.
The “Grains of Ukraine” initiative demonstrated that global food security was “not just empty words” for Kyiv, he said.
The Kremlin says food exported from Ukrainian Black Sea ports under a UN-brokered plan has not reached the most vulnerable countries.
Zelenskiy said Kyiv had raised $150 million from more than 20 countries and the European Union to export grain to countries including Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
“We plan to send at least 60 ships from Ukrainian ports to countries most at risk of famine and drought,” Zelenskiy told the rally.
The summit brought together in person the Prime Ministers of Belgium, Poland and Lithuania and the President of Hungary. The German and French presidents as well as the head of the European Commission delivered speeches via video.
A joint statement released after the summit said that since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the world had received 10 million tonnes less agricultural products than the same period in 2021.
“This means that the food security of millions of people around the world is seriously threatened,” he said, blaming a Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports earlier in the conflict.
“We are confident that together we will overcome the serious humanitarian and economic consequences of the global food crisis caused by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” he said.
The rally coincided with Ukraine’s annual memorial day for the Holodomor, the Stalin-era man-made famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the winter of 1932-33.
In a video address, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a contribution of 6 million euros ($6.24 million) for the transport and distribution by the World Food Program of Ukrainian cereals in Yemen and Sudan.
“The most vulnerable countries should not pay the price for a war they did not want,” he said.
($1 = 0.9620 euros)
Reporting by Dan Peleschuk; additional reporting by Dominique Vidalon and David Ljunggren; written by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Louise Heavens, Barbara Lewis and Leslie Adler
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