UN humanitarian chief in Ukraine condemns 'brutal and relentless' pattern of port attacks
A string of Russian attacks on port and grain facilities in Ukraine which began over a month ago, have intensified in recent days, drawing condemnation from the UN’s top humanitarian official there.
"There has been almost one attack every other day hitting vital port and grain facilities in Ukraine," said Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Denise Brown, in a statement on Wednesday.
Assault on grain exports
A Russian drone attack early on Wednesday damaged infrastructure at Ukrainian grain-exporting facilities on the Danube River.
Ukrainian officials say buildings including grain warehouses, oil storage tanks and administrative buildings, were destroyed.
The UN, citing port authorities, noted the tragic event had left at least six people injured. No deaths were immediately reported.
"It is hugely alarming to hear that the two Ukrainian ports in the Danube River were once again struck during overnight Russian attacks on the Odesa Region," Ms. Brown added.
It was the latest attack by Russia on Ukrainian port and grain facilities since Moscow quit the UN-brokered deal that had enabled Ukraine to safely export grain through the Black Sea.
"Today’s strike on Ukrainian ports was the 21st of such attacks since Russia’s decision to terminate the Black Sea Initiative less than two months ago”, said Ms. Brown.
“It is shocking but since 17 July there has been almost one attack every other day hitting vital port and grain facilities in Ukraine."
Withdrawal from grain deal
The grain initiative was struck in July 2022, between Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye and the UN. It enabled the export of more than 32 million tonnes of grain.
But, in mid-July, Russia withdrew from the Initiative, arguing that agricultural exporters were not benefiting as the deal and separate Memorandum of Understanding had laid out.
Since then, only a handful of vessels, none of them carrying grain, have been allowed to sail from Ukraine's Black Sea ports, according to news reports.
Ukraine is a major global supplier of grain such as sunflower oil, bailey, maize and wheat.
The war has caused global food prices to surge and is creating shortages food in Africa and the Middle East. Both import large amounts of food from Ukraine.
Pattern of attacks
"The consequences of this brutal and relentless pattern of Russian attacks are catastrophic for the people of Ukraine and the 345 million people facing hunger worldwide," Ms. Brown warned.
According to news reports, the Governor of the Odesa region that includes the Danube River ports, has said 105 port infrastructure facilities in Ukraine had been damaged and partially destroyed since July 18, the day after Russia quit the Black Sea Initiative.
"International humanitarian law strictly prohibits attacks on civilian infrastructure. This must stop,” the Humanitarian Coordinator said.