Pope Francis has called for the lifting of a blockade on wheat exports from Ukraine, saying the staple food should not be used "as a weapon of war."
Speaking at the end of his weekly audience on Wednesday, the Pontiff said that he is following "with great concern" the situation at Ukrainian ports.
The lives of millions of people depend on the export of wheat, "especially among the poorest countries," he said.
"I make a heartfelt appeal that every effort be made to resolve this issue, to guarantee the universal human right be nourished," the Pontiff said.
"Please do not use wheat, a staple food, as a weapon of war," he added.
Some context: Ukraine is working on a "UN-led naval operation" with navies of partnering countries to ensure a safe trade route for exporting its agricultural products, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky previously said that 22 million tons of grain, accounting for nearly half of Ukraine’s grain export supply, is being held up by Russia's blockade of the main export routes.
The Kremlin has repeatedly rejected the accusations that it has blocked grain supplies from Ukraine, and has accused the West of actions that have led to this crisis.