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UN wants to increase aid to frontline areas of Ukraine

Ukrainian rescuers work on the site following a Russian missile strike on a local market in Shevchenkove village, Kharkiv region on Jan 9, 2023. (SERGEY BOBOK / AFP)

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations said Wednesday it aims to increase convoys carrying aid to parts of Ukraine "close to the frontlines," supporting local volunteers and organizations.

The UN humanitarian coordination office, OCHA, said in a press release that a seven-truck convoy had reached Vovchansk in the Kharkiv region, just five kilometers from the Russian border.

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

"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," said the release.

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 Organization for Migration and the UN Children's Fund.

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

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

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

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

Nearly 44 percent 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 percent of wheat exported last year.

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The JCC team, which includes officials from the United Nations, Russia, Türkiye and Ukraine, has enabled over 1,300 voyages so far.

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

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