UN says threats against Black Sea civilian grain vessels 'unacceptable'

AFP , Friday 21 Jul 2023

Threats against civilian vessels in the Black Sea are "unacceptable," a senior UN official said Friday following statements by Moscow and Kyiv after Russia withdrew from a key grain export deal.

Grain cargo ship TQ Samsun
File Photo: Bulk grain cargo ship TQ Samsun is anchored in the Black Sea near the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, T rkiye, Monday, July 17, 2023. AP


Russia announced on Monday that it was pulling out of the initiative, which allowed the safe export of Ukrainian grain, effectively ending the agreement signed in July last year between Moscow, Kyiv, Istanbul and the UN.

Russian authorities then announced that they would consider any ships heading for Ukrainian grain ports on the Black Sea as military targets.

Kyiv responded by issuing a warning to ships heading for Russian-controlled ports.

"Threats regarding potential targeting of civilian vessels navigating in the Black Sea waters are unacceptable," the UN's under-secretary-general for political affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, told the UN Security Council.

"We are also concerned about the reports of sea mines laid in the Black Sea, endangering civilian navigation.

"We strongly urge restraint from any further rhetoric or action that could deteriorate the already dangerous situation," she added.

DiCarlo added that Russia withdrawing from the grain deal, "coupled with its bombardment of crucial ports, will further compound the crisis."

She said the UN would continue its efforts to allow Ukrainian and Russian grain, a key food source for the world, to reach global markets.

The UN's humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffiths said this week had been one of "sadness and disappointment."

But for many of the 362 million people in need of humanitarian aid around the world, it was a "threat to their future."

"They're not sad, they're angry, they're worried, they're concerned. Some will go hungry. Some will starve, many may die as a result of these decisions," Griffiths added.

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