Mercy Corps: Grain Deal Extension Negotiations Must be Matched by Renewed Efforts to Ensure Aid Reaches Across Frontlines

March 10, 2023

As negotiations to extend the essential Black Sea grain deal continue, the four million civilians behind the front lines must not be forgotten, says Mercy Corps. 

The grain export deal brokered by the UN and Turkey, Ukraine and the Russian Federation must be extended beyond 18 March to ensure access to essential grain exports is protected for food-insecure countries. Meanwhile, the millions of people currently cut off from aid in Russian-controlled areas also need action from the international community to broker a similar multilateral agreement. 

More than four million people are estimated to be in Russian-controlled areas, with many in acute humanitarian need. Mercy Corps has called for an access negotiation framework, built on the same format of the grain deal, that permits, encourages, and protects humanitarian action in these territories. 

Michael Young, Mercy Corps Ukraine Response Director, said: 

“In addition to ensuring an extension of the grain export deal, the UN must intensify humanitarian diplomacy efforts and explore every possible opportunity to ensure safe, systematic, and unfettered humanitarian access to civilians in need in these territories.

“The scale of humanitarian need is potentially huge. The number of people in need in these territories equals the population of Malta, Luxembourg, Cyprus, and Bahrain combined. It is reasonable to ask that aid flows inside these territories the way it flows in other parts of Ukraine and to the outer world, by land or via the same Black Sea ports.” 

Harpinder Collacott, Mercy Corps in Europe Director for Europe, said: 

“It is imperative to distinguish political from humanitarian questions. Humanitarian access negotiations must be prioritised and discussed as a standalone matter, strictly separate from political or security discussions, as guided by International Humanitarian Law.”


About Mercy Corps in Ukraine

Mercy Corps has been responding in Ukraine since the start of the full-scale war in February 2022. The team is providing emergency cash assistance to refugees in neighboring countries and people displaced inside Ukraine so they can meet their basic survival needs. We also fund local organizations that know their community best and are working quickly to address their most urgent needs. In 2022, Mercy Corps and its partners reached over 1.38 million people in Ukraine and neighboring countries with emergency cash, food, psychosocial support, information campaigns and other urgent assistance.