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Friday, February 16, 2024

Somalia receives free wheat from Moscow

The food aid was handed over to the African country by Russia’s ambassador, Mikhail Golovanov

Somalia has taken delivery of 25,000 tons of humanitarian wheat from Russia, according to the East African nation’s news agency, SONNA. A cargo ship carrying the aid arrived in the country’s port of Mogadishu on Thursday.

Russia’s ambassador to Somalia, Mikhail Golovanov, who arrived in Mogadishu on Saturday ahead of the delivery, handed over the free grain to Somalia’s minister of maritime transport and ports, Abdullahi Ahmed Jama.

Read more: Ukraine ceasefire unlikely in 2024 – Moscow

Moscow has committed to assisting Somalia in dealing with a hunger crisis caused by prolonged droughts and recent floods that affected most of the country’s governorates, displacing around 250,000 people. The UN food program said last month that an estimated 4.1 million people in the country will face acute hunger by the end of the year.

Last month, Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev announced that two shipments of free grain had left for Burkina Faso and Somalia as part of a pledge made by President Vladimir Putin at the Russia-Africa summit in July.

According to Patrushev, up to 200,000 tons of grains will be delivered to the six African countries facing food insecurity by the end of the year. With Somalia being the first to receive the aid and Burkina Faso’s already departing from Russian shores, the four other nations that will benefit from the initiative are Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Mali, and Central African Republic.

Read more: Talks with US unlikely – Moscow

Russia made the alternative arrangement to supply free wheat to African countries after withdrawing from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which was brokered by the UN and Türkiye last year to facilitate Ukrainian grain exports to world markets, particularly to poor countries. Moscow accused Western countries of failing to meet their obligations under the agreement, such as lifting sanctions that prevented Russian agricultural exports.

On Thursday, Somalia’s maritime transport minister welcomed Moscow’s assistance as “timely” and thanked the Kremlin for the gesture.