Home at last? Sailors bank on Ukraine grain deal

STORY: Burak Kinayer has been stuck for five months on a boat off Odesa.

The 19-year-old cadet has lived on his ship with crew mates since Russia invaded its neighbour.

The vessel’s operators have told him to stay onboard, given the possible difficulties of returning if he should leave.

Now his ship is one of dozens getting ready to leave from three Black Sea ports that were blockaded by Moscow.

"The way back does not scare me. Of course, there is a slight uneasiness but it is good for us that controls will be made and that other ships will be escorting us. It makes us feel safer."

The opening to leave came after an export deal was signed between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN.

The aim was to ease concerns over a growing global food crisis.

But Burak's fears over not getting home returned on Saturday when Russia struck Odesa’s port.

"Our emotions are complicated, as the final days arrive we feel both excitement and joy. We were a bit scared by the attack a couple of days ago thinking what will happen with the deal, will there be further problems."

A coordination centre opened Wednesday (July 27) in Istanbul to oversee ships leaving Ukraine.

Turkey said Wednesday all the details have been worked out.

It includes a safe route for ships which won't require clearing sea mines.

The first vessel is likely to leave from the ports in a few days, with the shipments crucial to averting hunger in some countries.

Around 20 million tonnes of grain are said to be awaiting export from Ukraine.

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