Guterres 'extremely concerned' about ICMN suspension

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed deep concern over Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in the Black Sea Grains Initiative (BCNI), an agreement set up to reinvigorate Ukraine’s vital food and fertilizer exports to the rest of the world.

In a statement, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres had decided to delay his departure for the Arab League summit in Algiers by a day to focus on the issue.

Following the Russian offensive in Ukraine at the end of February 2022, mountains of grain accumulated in the silos, as ships could not be assured of safe passage to Ukrainian ports from these, and the roads land could not compensate for the stoppage of maritime transport.

This situation has contributed to dizzying increases in the price of staple foods around the world, combined with the increase in the cost of energy. Developing countries have therefore been pushed to the brink of debt default and increasing numbers of people have been pushed to the brink of starvation.

The Initiative was due to expire in the second half of November, but it was possible to extend it if all parties, including Russia and Ukraine, signified their agreement.

Millions saved from extreme poverty

The deal has clearly succeeded in lowering prices, allowing millions of tonnes of grain to be transported safely from Ukrainian ports. In September, Rebecca Grynspan, director of the United Nations trade arm, UNCTAD, and Amir Abdulla, United Nations coordinator for the ICMN, could proudly report that prices had fallen for five consecutive months and that the index of Food prices, which measures the monthly change in international prices of a typical basket of food products, had fallen nearly 14% from the peak reached in March.

According to UN estimates, the Initiative has indirectly prevented some 100 million people from falling into extreme poverty.

However, on Saturday Russia announced it was suspending its involvement in the deal, citing a same-day attack on ships in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014.

This decision would have taken traders and traders by surprise and raised fears of a further sharp rise in food prices. Arif Husain, chief economist of the World Food Program (WFP), reportedly warned that Russia’s decision posed a danger to a large number of countries and should be resolved as soon as possible.

Dujarric said the Secretary-General continues to engage in intense contacts aimed at ending Russia’s suspension of its participation in the Initiative.

This commitment, he explained, also aims to renew and fully implement the initiative to facilitate exports of food and fertilizers from Ukraine, as well as to remove remaining barriers to exports. of Russian food products and fertilizers.

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