Finland regions

Finland to help Ukrainian grain shipments to Africa

HELSINKI, FINLAND – Finland will support United Nations World Food Program (WFP) grain shipments from Ukraine to Somalia with increased assistance to the Horn of Africa, where more than 20 million people need food aid, the Finnish Foreign Ministry announced Nov 8.

Finland is allocating 15.7 million euros ($16.03 million) in humanitarian aid to the region. Of this sum, nearly 7 million euros (7.865 million dollars) will be channeled through the WFP to help facilitate the transport of Ukrainian grain to Somalia.

“It is extremely important that the grain shipment from Ukraine to the Horn of Africa can continue,” said Ville Skinnari, Finnish Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade. “We support the World Food Program in this area.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 disrupted food security around the world, increasing prices and creating a severe hunger crisis in less developed countries, particularly in Africa. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the deleterious effects of climate change in some regions, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and WFP estimate that up to 222 million people could suffer from acute food insecurity in 53 countries.

A fifth consecutive failed rainy season has worsened the situation in the Horn of Africa, where nations are heavily dependent on Russia and Ukraine for their wheat. Russia and Ukraine account for around 30% of world exports of basic grains.

The Black Sea Grains Initiative negotiated by the UN and Turkey with Russia and Ukraine in July allowed the shipment of grain from the region, but the agreement is due to expire on November 19. So far, Ukraine has exported 14.3 million tonnes of grain in the 2022-23 marketing year, compared to 20.6 million in 2021-22. The marketing campaign runs from July 1 to June 30.

Finnish humanitarian aid is provided by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Finnish Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The assistance is focused on food security, but it is also used to help refugees. The Horn of Africa is an important migratory crossroads and a large number of people move back and forth in the region. Falling food aid levels are also affecting 3.5 million refugees in the region.

“Our humanitarian aid will help provide people with shelter, clean water and health services,” Skinnari said. “There is a pressing shortage of them both in communities across the region and in refugee camps.