TRIPOLI, Lebanon (AP) — A ship carrying thousands of tons of corn and vegetable oil from war-ravaged Ukraine docked in northern Lebanon on Monday, the first such vessel since Russia’s invasion of its neighbor started seven months ago.
AK Ambition, registered in Panama and loaded with 7,000 tons of corn and 20 tons of vegetable oil, arrived in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest, with Ukraine Embassy officials waiting at the port.
Last month, Razoni, carrying grain from Ukraine, was turned back and eventually docked in Syria, Russia's ally, after the Lebanese importer refused to accept the shipment, allegedly because of a delay.
Razoni was the first ship to leave from Ukraine heading to Lebanon after a wartime deal signed between the United Nations and several countries for the save passage of movement of the ships carrying vital cargo.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ihor Ostash, said AK Ambition's arrival was part of a deal signed between Ukrainian and Lebanese companies to bring weekly shipments to Lebanon. It comes at a time when the small Mediterranean nation is in desperate need amid an unprecedented economic meltdown.
Ukraine is one of the world’s major global grain suppliers but the war has blocked most exports. This led world food prices to soar in a crisis, including in Lebanon. The Lebanese are heavily reliant on Ukraine grain products, which accounted for 60% of Lebanon's supply.
In early August, a Syrian ship that Ukraine said was carrying stolen Ukrainian grain left Tripoli after officials in Lebanon allowed it to sail following an investigation. The Syrian-flagged Laodicea had been anchored in Tripoli for days, with 10,000 tons of wheat flour and barley. Moscow denied Ukraine's claim of stolen grain.
Lebanon’s economic crisis has led to soaring inflation and shortages of food items, such as wheat. Long bread lines recently plagued the country, where around two thirds of the population of 6 million, including 1 million Syrian refugees, now lives in poverty.