UN wants to increase aid to frontline areas of Ukraine

The UN has said it aims to increase convoys carrying aid to parts of Ukraine “close to the frontlines,” supporting local volunteers and organisations.

The UN humanitarian coordination office, OCHA, said in a statement on Wednesday that a seven-truck convoy had reached Vovchansk in the Kharkiv region, just five kilometre from the Russian border.

“This community has been heavily impacted by months of hostilities and the 4,500 people who remain there depend on humanitarian aid to meet their needs,” the statement added.

The convoy supplied hygiene kits, blankets, solar lamps, sleeping bags and emergency shelter kits to more than 1,000 families, provided by the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the International Organisation for Migration and the UN Children’s Fund.

Among the participants in the convoy was the World Food Programme, which conducted a rapid assessment of markets, Xinhua news agency reported.

The UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative signed last July along with a Memorandum of Understanding, aimed at suppling markets with food and fertiliser amid global shortages and rising prices exacerbated by the Ukraine crisis, has now allowed 17.8 million ton to reach millions in need worldwide.

The critical food supplies, mostly from farms in Ukraine, have reached 43 countries since August, more than 40 per cent of them low and middle-income nations, the initiative’s Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) said in a note to correspondents on Wednesday.

In December, exports through Ukraine’s Black Sea ports rose to 3.7 million metric ton, up from 2.6 million in November, and over the last two weeks, nearly 1.2 million metric ton have left port.

Nearly 44 per cent of the wheat exported has been shipped to low and lower-middle income countries, the JCC reported.

In support of its humanitarian operations in hunger-stricken countries, the World Food Programme purchased 8 per cent of wheat exported last year.

The JCC team, which includes officials from the UN, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, has enabled more than 1,300 voyages so far.

To reduce the backlog and improve operational efficiency within the JCC, the UN encourages all parties to remove obstacles.

Additionally, the initiative calls for the facilitation of safe navigation for fertiliser exports, including ammonia.

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