Catholic bishop and Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Argentinian Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, left, and Professor Mahmoud Azab, right, advisor of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University sign the "Global Freedom Network" agreement between representatives of Catholic church, the Anglican church and Sunni University Al-Azhar to fight against "modern forms of slavery and human trafficking," as Mining billionaire Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest (C), Anglican bishop, Sir David John Moxon (topL) and the director of the Holy See press office, Federico Lombardi (topR) look at the Vatican. Picture: ANDREAS SOLARO

Vatican City -

Christians and Muslims have joined to try to help free millions of men, women and children held in modern-day slavery, forced to work as maids, prostitutes, child soldiers and manual labourers.

The Global Freedom Network launched on Monday at the Vatican aims to eradicate slavery by encouraging governments, businesses, educational and faith institutions to rid their supply chains of slave labor.

The initiative is the brainchild of billionaire Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest, who founded the Walk Free Foundation in 2012 to mobilise a grass-roots movement to end slavery.

Forrest, ranked 270th on Forbes' list of the world's richest people, used personal contacts to bring the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church, 85-million strong Anglican Communion and al-Azhar university in Cairo, the world's foremost seat of Sunni learning, on board with the initiative. - Sapa-AP