Pope Francis has appealed to governments around the world to take action to end human trafficking and protect its victims.

In comments made on Sunday - two days after the church held a day to raise awareness of human trafficking, the Pope reportedly said on Sunday that all people “can and must work together to denounce the cases of exploitation and slavery of men, women, and children”.

He appealed especially to governments "so that the causes of this plague are resolved and the victims protected".

Friday - 8th February - is the feast day of St Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese woman born in 1869 who was sold into slavery as a child by kidnappers and later joined an order of nuns in Italy. The Catholic Church marks the day as a World Day of Prayer and Reflection against Human Trafficking.

The Walk Free Foundation's Global Slavery Index estimates that some 45.8 million people live in some form of slavery.

The Pope has previously announced his prayer intention for February is for people to pray "for a generous welcome of the victims of human trafficking, of enforced prostitution, and of violence".