UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday named a retired Kuwaiti vice admiral as co-ordinator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative to manage shipments from war-torn Ukraine.
Abdullah Dashti will help to co-ordinate the five-month-old operation by Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and the UN to ensure shipments of grains, oilseeds, fertilisers and other farm products move safely to markets from the Black Sea.
Exports from Ukraine, a critical supplier of grains, oilseeds and vegetable oils to global markets, were cut off by a Russian naval embargo after Moscow's forces invaded the country in February.
That sent prices for agricultural products soaring around the world, hitting wheat importers in the Middle East and Africa especially hard.
In July, the UN, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine agreed to permit shipments to resume from Ukrainian ports.
The initiative also allowed Russia to export food and fertilisers, which are also crucial to global agriculture, through the Black Sea without fear of sanctions.
Mr Dashti succeeds Sudan's Amir Abdulla, who was the UN co-ordinator since August.
Mr Dashti retired in 2021 from the Kuwaiti armed forces and has 40 years of experience in "naval operations, leadership and management, both within Kuwait and multinational deployments", Mr Guterres's office said.
From 2019 to 2020, he was Kuwait's military defence attache in Belgium and Kuwait's representative to Nato.
More than 14 million tonnes of grain have been exported from Ukraine under the Black Sea Initiative, Rebeca Grynspan, head of the UN's trade and development agency, said on December 15.