Women and children migrants 'being forced into sex with smugglers to secure passage on boats'

Women and children migrants 'being forced into sex with smugglers to secure passage on boats'
One of the dead migrants washed up in Turkey over the weekend. Pic: AP

The UNHCR in Ireland says almost 12 times as many refugees crossed the Meditteranean last month, compared with the same time year.

Up to 62,000 migrants made the journey in January, that figure was just 5,500 in January 2015.

January has been the deadliest month so far for people making the treacherous crossing, 37 people died and 75 were rescued after their boat capsized on route from Turkey to Greece over the weekend.

Spokesperson for the UNHCR in Ireland, Jody Clarke, says the profile of migrants has changed too.

Almost 55% of refugees last month were women and children.

She said: "It is quite worrying really, because a lot of our research from the ground and talking to people coming across, is that we know of women and children who are being forced into having sex with smugglers, for example, in order to secure passage on boats and in order to secure what they are told is the necessary documentation.

"There are a lot of very vulnerable people, a lot of single mothers who are coming across as well."

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