Ukraine Goodwill Ambassador, Dr Fomunyoh, peers recommit to tackle global food crisis

Cameroonian United States-based good governance crusader, who also doubles as Goodwill Ambassador of Ukraine president's humanitarian programme, Grain from Ukraine Initiative, Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, and other goodwill ambassadors of the initiative, have recommitted to tackle increasingly pressing concern of global food crisis in African and Asian nations facing extreme hunger. Dr Fomunyoh and his peers took the fresh commitment recently in Kyiv, Ukraine, during the Global Food Security Summit and the second anniversary of the launching of the Grain from Ukraine Initiative. The Summit held on November 25, 2023.

Dr Fomunyoh, it should be said, was appointed in January 2023, by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as one of the pioneer African Ambassadors and member of the International Coordination Group for Prevention of Hunger, ICGPH, created to pilot affairs of the humanitarian initiative. The Regional Director for Central and West Africa at the National Democratic Institute, NDI, while in Ukraine recently, took part in the stocktaking meeting of the Grain from Ukraine humanitarian initiative. Dr Fomunyoh, together with the other ambassadors of the initiative, had a private session qualified as excellent with Andriy Yermak, Chief of Staff to President Zelensky. "I reaffirm my commitment to working with you to achieve results. Our hearts are full of sympathy for the people of Ukraine. We would like to express our respect to President Zelensky, the government and the people of Ukraine, for fighting the threat of annexation, despite all the difficulties and setting an example for the rest of the world," Dr Fomunyoh said.

The globally acclaimed democratization expert commended Ukrainians for their resilience in fighting back Russian aggression and at the same time contributing to global food security. Dr Fomunyoh, in an outing on X platform (formerly twitter), said he was thrilled and touched for being a living testimony to such a transformative moment in the lives of Ukrainians, who for a while now have been faced with hardship triggered by the conflict with Russia. "Grateful to be in Kyiv, Ukraine this thanksgiving2023 to see for myself the brave people of this great country fighting back Russian aggression; and yet contributing so effectively to global food security, through the Grain from Ukraine initiative. Bravo!" Dr Fomumyoh posted.

The Chief of Staff to President Zelensky, said Dr Fomunyoh and other ambassadors also discussed the expansion of the Grain from Ukraine initiative and the involvement of international experts familiar with the issues of the African continent in its implementation.

Nigeria to benefit next shipment

After the stocktaking, Dr Fomunyoh said three key points were raised, including the fact that Ukraine has now negotiated alternative routes following the withdrawal of Russia from the Black Sea Agreement, blocked, bombard and declared a war zone by Russia to ship grain to needy countries. "The alternate routes and solidarity lanes will allow Ukraine to continue to make its grain available to the rest of the world," he said. Dr Fomunyoh said more countries are coming forward and pledging support for the initiative; in the sense that they will continue to make funding available for the initiative to be sustained. The Grain from Ukraine initiative Ambassador disclosed that the next shipment to Africa will be going to Nigeria. Zooms on input at Kyiv meeting In a telephone conversation with The Guardian Post, Dr Fomunyoh said he feels greatly honoured that Ukraine and the world continue to appreciate his "willingness to advocate global food security, especially on behalf of vulnerable countries in Africa, Asia and the Global South". Dr Fomunyoh said aside assisting with food, Ukraine is working hard to expand its bilateral relationships with various African countries, to increase its number of embassies and diplomatic representations. "Negotiations are being finalized on bilateral basis with a number of African countries. This means Ukraine recognizes that Africa also has an important role to play on the global stage," he said. He said the President of Ukraine is also working with African leaders to make them better understand what the continent stands to gain and the potential that Ukraine presents in the whole host of sectors, including agriculture and technology.

Pledges to push for more African countries to benefit

As member of the International Coordination Group for Prevention of Hunger, ICGPH, created to pilot the affairs of the humanitarian initiative, Dr Fomunyoh said he plans to push for more African countries to benefit from the Grain from Ukraine initiative. " …I could also help raise awareness on the vulnerabilities that our own people also face on the issue of hunger and food insecurity. That's really the advantage of serving on that kind of a panel because as a credible and respected voice by the Ukrainians, I can help raise their awareness on the specific challenges that various countries face, including Cameroon," Dr Fomunyoh said.

Zooms on conditions to benefit

He said countries most likely considered are those with high risk of food insecurity. This, he said, is the reason Ethiopia received its grains when it was in full-blown conflict with lot of farming in Tigray and other parts of the country. "Somalia also received its grain because the World Food Programme and other institutions had identified a sizeable percentage of the population, which was at risk of famine." He further explained that Kenya qualified to receive its grain because a number of regions in the country suffered drought consistently for a five year period and people were dying and livelihood were losing attle.

Likelihood of Cameroon benefiting

The worsening armed conflict rocking the Anglophone Regions of and Boko Haram terrorist attacks in the Far North Region of the country, Dr Fomunyoh said, are indicators that are frequently used to ship grains to countries. This, he said, adds to reports by credible organizations such as the International Rescue Committee and the international relief agencies especially as the Anglophone crisis and the Boko Haram terrorist attacks "have displaced hundreds of thousands of people and deprived farmers of the ability to go to farms…"."Cameroon definitely needs to be on the list of countries that will require some assistance, " he said, adding that when it benefits, they will work with the World Food Programme to ensure it is actually distributed to the vulnerable populations.

Call for more support

It should be recalled that the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, while opening the Summit had said his country needs more air defenses to protect its grain export routes as well as regions bordering Russia. Zelenskyy was speaking after Russia attacked Ukraine with 75 drones overnight, the biggest drone assault of the war. He said Ukraine would be supplied by its foreign partners with vessels to accompany convoys of cargo ships from Ukraine's ports to guarantee their security. "I have agreements with several countries about powerful accompaniment of convoys by Ukrainians, but using [foreign] equipment," he said. The Ukrainian president also said Kyiv hoped to solve its air defense shortage through new supplies from partners and increasing its own production capacity. "As of today, I can't say in detail what we are making and where, but there is progress, " he said. Ukraine, a major exporter of grain, has been exporting grain via unilateral corridors through the Black Sea, after Russia withdrew in July from a unbrokered deal to allow grain ships through its blockade. Ukraine's current Black Sea grain export corridors all start from ports in Ukraine's southern region of Odesa. "There are certain air defense systems...we are asking for them. We have already got an answer when these systems will start to guard that region. Both the corridor and the people are important," Zelenskyy said. The Grain from Ukraine initiative, was joined by 34 countries and international organisations. Ukraine is one of the top global food suppliers. It is also a reliable partner of the UN World Food Programme. Through the «Grain from Ukraine» initiative, more than 170,000 tons of Ukrainian grain was delivered to Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Yemen. More than 25 countries have pledged about 220 million USD to support the initiative. However, Russia's unprovoked and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine, has worsened existing food security challenges worldwide, and exacerbated global food crisis. Russia is not only waging war on the battlefield but is also aiming to inflict a global food crisis by destroying Ukrainian civil port infrastructure and grain storage facilities, blocking the Black Sea coast of Ukraine, and disrupting lawful transit in Ukraine's territorial seas. The Ukrainian initiative, Grain from Ukraine, it is said, can serve as an effective tool to help respond to acute hunger. By Doh Bertrand Nua Dr Fomunyoh shaking hands with Ukraine president Dr Fomunyoh & others during stocktaking meeting Grain from Ukraine initiative officials during meeting Dr Fomunyoh (second from left) with Ukraine resident & others

Doh Bertrand Nua

The Guardian Post - Cameroon No 2982 Thursday December 07, 2023