Pope Francis called on Russia to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative during his Sunday address at the Vatican.

"I call on my brothers, Russia, to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which will allow safe transportation of grain," the pontiff said.

He added that this step would help save the lives of millions of starving people.

Earlier, Egypt, one of the world's largest wheat importers, criticized Russia for withdrawing from the Black Sea Grain Initiative and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the Russian attacks on port facilities in Odesa and Chornomorsk.

The United Nations stated in a recent report that over 32 million tons of food products were exported in the nearly one year of operation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, allowing the transportation of agricultural products from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports. According to the report, the initiative allowed the World Food Program (WFP) to transport over 725,000 tons of wheat to help people in need in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

The United Nations also stated in the report that the partial resumption of Ukraine’s maritime exports that was enabled by the Black Sea Grain Initiative unblocked vital food commodities and helped reverse spiking global food prices, which reached record highs shortly before the agreement was signed.