The United Nations’ Children’s Foundation (UNICEF) said on Tuesday that children and women make up 60 percent of refugees crossing the border from Greece to Macedonia, for the first time since the beginning of refugee crisis in Europe.
The number of children and women marks a significant shift since June, when 73 percent of refugees were adult males and only one in 10 were under the age of 18.
According to the latest report released by the organisation, although children currently account for 36 percent of those attempting to cross Aegean sea between Turkey and Greece, this figure could be higher as many children do not declare their age until they have reached their destination.
UNICEF’s Special Coordinator for the refugee crisis in Europe Marie Pierre Poirier underlined the importance of the situation, saying that the women and children are more vulnerable to the dangers of trying to travel to Europe.
"The implications of this surge in the proportion of children and women on the move are enormous - it means more are at risk at sea, especially now in the winter, and more need protection on land," Poirier said.
"Welfare, protection and health systems need to be strengthened at every step of the way so children and women are not exploited or fall between cracks," she continued.
Previously, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said that one in every five who drowned in January while trying to sail from Turkey to Greece was a child, with minors accounting for 60 of the 272 deaths.
Including January, a total of 330 children have died in those waters over the last five months, IOM added.
Also the European Union's police agency Europol stated on Sunday that more than 10,000 refugee children have disappeared in Europe and added that it fears manf of them may have become victims of sex trafficing rings in Europe which struggles with its biggest movement of people crisis since World War II.