UN chief calls for Black Sea Grain deal to be extended beyond March 2023

03 March 20232 min reading

In his speech at the United Nations Security Council meeting on Ukraine, which was convened on the first anniversary of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres renewed calls for the Black Sea Grain Initiative’s extension.

Noting the Security Council has held more than 40 debates on Ukraine over the past year, he said that ‘the guns are talking now, but in the end, we all know that the path of diplomacy and accountability is the road to a just and sustainable peace.’ “Protection of civilians must remain the top priority,” Guterres stressed calling for actions to ensure safe and unimpeded humanitarian access, invest in Ukraine's recovery and reconstruction, as well as to avoid nuclear risks.

He also gave an update on the progress made under the Black Sea Grain Initiative and renewed calls for the deal's extension. Under the deal, more than 20 million metric tons of foodstuffs have now been safely reconnected to global supply chains on more than 700 ships, helping to bring down prices around the world, Guterres said. "I want to underscore the importance of all parties remaining engaged in this initiative, and reiterate our call for it to be extended beyond March 2023,” he said.

On July 22, 2022, Russia and Ukraine separately signed a document in Istanbul with Türkiye and the United Nations on grain exports from Ukraine to ensure supplies to global markets amid the war. The deal, due to expire on Nov. 19, 2022, was extended for another 120 days.

Guterres added that the UN is firmly committed to working to remove the remaining obstacles to Russian food and fertilizer exports, including ammonia. These efforts demonstrated that international cooperation is essential, valuable and possible, "even in the midst of conflict," the UN chief said.

In peacetime, Ukraine’s food exports were enough to feed 400 million people. Its farmers supplied a tenth of the wheat and half the sunflower oil sold on world markets. Its shipments of grains and oilseeds through the Black Sea fell to zero last March, from 5.7 million metric tons in February. The number of people facing food insecurity rose from 282 million at the end of 2021 to a record 345 million last year, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). More than 50 million people are on the brink of famine.

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