Pope Francis on Monday decried people trafficking, calling it a "modern form of slavery", a "true crime against humanity" and a "scourge which especially affects women and children.”
"One of the most troubling of those open wounds [in the world] is the trade in human beings, a modern form of slavery," Francis told a conference in Rome on human trafficking.
"It violates the God-given dignity of so many of our brothers and sisters and constitutes a true crime against humanity," the pontiff said.
Powerful economic interests and criminal networks are behind human trafficking, "a scourge which especially affects women and children," Francis said.
"Indifference and even complicity, a tendency on the party of many to look the other way," must be fought by raising public awareness of human trafficking, better coordination by governments, judiciaries and security forces, he said.