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U.N.-chartered ship in Ukraine readying for journey to Africa

ODESA, Ukraine (Reuters) - The United Nations-chartered ship MV Brave Commander will depart Ukraine for Africa in coming days after it finishes loading more than 23,0000 tons of wheat in the Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi, a U.N. official said.

The ship, which arrived in the port near Odesa, will sail to Ethiopia via a grain corridor through the Black Sea brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in late July.

It will be the first humanitarian food aid cargo bound for Africa since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. under the framework of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

The cargo was funded with donations from the United Nations World Food Programme, U.S. Agency for International Development and several private donors.

A total 16 ships have now departed from Ukraine following the deal with Russia to allow a resumption of grain exports from Ukraine's Black Sea ports, after they were stalled for five months due to the war.

The agreement was reached last month amid fears that the loss of Ukrainian grain supplies would lead to severe food shortages and even outbreaks of famine in parts of the world.

Ukraine has some 20 million tonnes of grain left over from last year's crop, while this year's wheat harvest is also estimated at 20 million tonnes.

So far most of the cargoes under the deal have carried grain for animal feed or for fuel.

As part of the U.N. deal, all ships are inspected in Istanbul by the Joint Coordination Centre, where Russia, Ukrainian, Turkish and U.N. personnel work.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Michael Perry)

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