Razoni at the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odesa (Image courtesy: Ministry of Infrastructure, Ukraine)
The first commercial ship to leave Ukraine since February 26 this year is expected to arrive at the inspection location in Turkish territorial waters Tuesday night before proceeding to its final destination - the Mediterranean port of Tripoli in Lebanon.
The Sierra Leone-flagged dry cargo ship Razoni, with 26,527 metric tonnes of corn, left the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odesa on Monday carrying grain under the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed by Ukraine, Russia and Turkey in Istanbul on July 22.
As it left Odesa, the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) set up in Istanbul under the auspices of the United Nations requested all its participants to inform their respective military and other relevant authorities of this decision to ensure the safe passage of the vessel.
Map courtesy: Marinetraffic.com
The JCC, which comprises of senior representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and United Nations, agreed to the specific coordinates and restrictions of the Safe Humanitarian Maritime Corridor and communicated those details in accordance with international navigation procedures.
The Coordination Centre is responsible for safe transportation by merchant ships of grain and other foodstuffs and fertilizers from three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea - Odesa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny - to the rest of the world.
The plan, said the UN, also paves the way for Russian food and fertilizer to reach global markets, all of which it is hoped will help reduce soaring food prices worldwide, and avert the possibility of famine afflicting millions in the months ahead.
Commenting on the shipment, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that ensuring existing grain and foodstuffs can move to global markets is a "humanitarian imperative" and the ship was loaded with two commodities in short supply - "corn, and hope".
"People on the verge of famine need these agreements to work, in order to survive. Countries on the verge of bankruptcy need these agreements to work, in order to keep their economies alive," said Guterres.
He hoped that this will be the first of many commercial ships moving in accordance with the initiative signed, and will bring the much-needed stability and relief to global food security.
Further shipments of grain are being planned from the three ports in the coming weeks, including by the UN emergency food agency World Food Programme (WFP) - a major customer of Ukraine's grain and cereals - working out to buy, load and ship an initial 30,000 metric tonnes of wheat on a UN-chartered vessel.
"WFP will have more details in the coming days," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General.
Ukraine and Russia account for nearly a third of global wheat imports, with the two countries supplying more than 45 million tonnes annually, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The Grain Initiative allows for significant volumes of exports with the Ukrainian pilot vessels guiding the ships through the Black Sea, after which they will head out through the Bosphorus Strait, passing Istanbul, along an agreed corridor.