Pope Francis calls for action to safeguard women, children

Pope Francis listens to national anthems during a welcoming ceremony at the government house in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. Pope Franc...
Pope Francis, left, walks with his cousin Ana Rosa Sivori, center, as Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha shows the way during a welcoming cer...
Pope Francis, center, walks with his cousin Ana Rosa Sivori, left, and Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, right, during a welcoming ceremony...

Pope Francis listens to national anthems during a welcoming ceremony at the government house in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. Pope Franc...

Pope Francis, left, walks with his cousin Ana Rosa Sivori, center, as Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha shows the way during a welcoming cer...

Pope Francis, center, walks with his cousin Ana Rosa Sivori, left, and Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, right, during a welcoming ceremony...

BANGKOK (AP) — Pope Francis has called for migrants to be welcomed and for women and children to be protected from exploitation, abuse and enslavement as he began a busy two days of activities in Thailand.

Francis pleaded for action against one of the region’s greatest scourges — human trafficking to fuel the forced labor and sex trade industries — as he opened a weeklong visit to Asia on Thursday.

He praised the Thai government’s efforts to fight human trafficking in a speech at host Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s offices. But he appealed for greater international commitment to protect women and children “who are violated and exposed to every form of exploitation, enslavement, violence and abuse.”

He called for ways to “uproot this evil and to provide ways to restore their dignity.”