Return of Odesa’s grain export welcomed

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THERE were huge sighs of relief among Jersey’s Ukrainian community yesterday following news that a grain shipment had left the port of Odesa, which has been under Russian blockade since the war broke out in February, pushing up global food prices and threatening starvation for some of the poorest people in the world.

Jersey resident Lera Evered, who was born in Kyiv, said: ‘I’m very happy that the grain is moving at last, but I’m cautious because we never know what to expect next. We are dealing with a situation where anything can happen at any time.’

She said members of the Ukrainian community living in Jersey were trying to balance their emotions at the moment, watching so much suffering from the safety of their homes in the Island: ‘There are lots of fires there at the moment because the temperatures are climbing to 45°C. When I watch the grain being burned – and even bombed on purpose – I feel it’s like murder because that grain could save someone’s life.’

Ms Evered added that although grain production was resuming at last, farmers had been warned not to plough their fields because any territory invaded by Russia would probably have been mined very heavily, and that even children’s backpacks and toys left in the street during the Russian retreat could contain bombs: ‘I dream about the dangers there at night – the Ukrainian government is forbidding people who return home from going to the forests or the lakes because there are mines everywhere.’

Before the war broke out, Ms Evered said she lived an ordinary life, occasionally taking part in low-key fundraising events, but explained that she now felt a duty to do more if she could: ‘I can’t just sit by and watch.

‘Sometimes I despair about what’s happening in Ukraine, but the people there don’t have that option, so we need to help them and to boost their morale from here. Their needs change all the time but it makes a big statement about unity when our friends and relatives there see that people in Jersey are still supporting them.’

She added: ‘We live in a constant state of anticipation now. I find that some people understand how dangerous the situation is there, but others feel it’s very far away and doesn’t really affect them.’

The safe corridor through the Black Sea from Odesa to Lebanon for the grain ship Razoni was agreed by Turkey, the UN, Russia and Ukraine and hopes are high that up to three shipments per day could leave Ukraine in the coming weeks, easing the plight of millions of people who are now at risk of hunger.

– A fundraiser in aid of those affected by the war in Ukraine is to be held in St Ouen’s Bay on Saturday. The Splash Out for Ukraine festival starts at 11am at the Watersplash, with all proceeds going to charity Jersey Side by Side and the Bailiff’s Ukraine Appeal. A series of activities are also being held later in the month as part of Ukraine Week, which can be viewed online at sidebyside.je/ukraineweek.

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