The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal between Russia and Ukraine, allows grain ships to continue moving from Ukrainian ports through a humanitarian corridor and out the Bosporus Strait. I had the opportunity to work with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to document the process of searching these massive ships before they are approved to go into a war zone and back. Images were published in an article and official UNODC video. Footage from the shoot was shown by 56 different news broadcasters.
Grain ships anchor in the Black Sea, where most wait several week for clearance to head to Ukraine or to leave out the Bosphorus strait.
Every cargo ship is boarded by a team of inspectors, a process that often involves a long climb up a rope ladder.
The vessel is inspected by teams from both countries, as well as observers from Türkiye and the UN. Having Ukrainian and Russian inspectors together means the working environment is often tense.
An average ship carrying 23,000 tons of grain can feed 1.5 million people for a month.
The headquarters of the BSGI is the Joint Coordination Centre, located at a military base in Istanbul, Türkiye.