Pope Francis on Friday made a surprise visit to a Rome safe house in Italy where a Catholic charity is protecting women freed from forced prostitution.
There, the pope met 20 ex-prostitutes from Romania, Albania, Nigeria, Tunisia, Ukraine and Italy, encouraging them to be strong as they start new lives, a Vatican official told Reuters.
Seven of the women are from Nigeria.
A statement from the Vatican said the pope made the visit to the Pope John XXIII Community, started by an Italian priest to help free women from their pimps in order to “appeal to consciences to fight human trafficking.”
Under his papacy, the Vatican has hosted series of conferences bringing together international police organisations, legislators and religious groups to find ways to work together to fight human trafficking and modern slavery.