Africa has an estimated 23% of the total number of people in modern slavery globally, a new report has found, with some 9.2m men, women and children living in modern slavery on any given day.

The 2018 Global Slavery Index, published by Australia non-governmental organisation Walk Free Foundation, found that Africa, with 51 countries and 16% of the world's population, has the highest prevalence of modern slavery in the world with 7.6 per 1,000 people in the region. This was followed by Asia and the Pacific (6.1 victims) and Europe and Central Asia (3.9 victims).

However, when forced labour and forced marriage was separated, a different regional picture emerged.

For forced labour, Asia and the Pacific has the highest prevalence (4.0 victims for every 1,000 people), followed by Europe and Central Asia (3.6 victims), and Africa (2.8). The prevalence of forced labour was lowest in the Arab states (2.2 victims) and the Americas (1.3 victims).

At the regional level, the impact of conflict and state-imposed forced labour remained consistent with global findings, with the highest prevalence occurring primarily in countries with well-documented state-imposed forced labour or marked by protracted or recent conflict.

The countries with the highest prevalence across the regions included Eritrea, Burundi, and Central African Republic (Africa); Venezuela, Haiti, and Dominican Republic (Americas); North Korea, n Afghanistan and Pakistan (Asia and the Pacific), Syria, Iraq and Yemen (Arab States); and Belarus, Turkmenistan, and Macedonia (Europe and Central Asia).

Meanwhile, the Europe and Central Asia region had the strongest responsor to modern slavery, with countries scoring an average BB rating. Within the broader Europe and Central Asia region, European governments in particular are generally characterised by high levels of political will and resources, backed by regional bodies that provide monitoring and oversight.

The Americas had the second strongest responses to modern slavery, scoring an average B rating, while both Asia and the Pacific and Arab States have a CCC rating on government responses. However, the responses themselves within these two regions were different, with some countries in the Asia and the Pacific region starting to provide safety nets and and protections for people in high risk sectors or groups.

The Africa region, with a CC rating, had the lowest average regional government response score, but report authors said this should not diminish "important improvements" made in recent years, including the introduction of criminal laws and national referral mechanisms in several countries including Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone. Despite this, in Africa, limited resources and ongoing conflict continued to hinder more comprehensive responses to modern slavery.

"Overall, our findings confirm that modern slavery remains a critical issue for all countries," report authors noted. "Just as responding to environmental concerns cannot be the task of one country alone, responding to modern slavery is a challenge that requires commitment and effort from all countries."