Numbers continue to rise of women and child refugees and migrants in Europe

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A group of asylum-seekers break the trek to rest at Tovarnik train station in Croatia. Photo: UNHCR/I. Pavicevic

Unpredictable border restrictions and harsh weather are compounding the hardships and challenges for refugee and migrant children and women who now account for more than half of all arrivals by sea in Europe, according to the United Nations children's agency, UNICEF.

From the beginning of 2015 until November, more than 876,000 people have arrived on European shores having crossed the Mediterranean.

Nicki Chadwick has more.

The proportion of children and women who are part of the refugee and migrant population arriving in Europe has continued to rise since the summer and now stands at 52 per cent, compared with 27 per cent in June. 

Sarah Crowe, spokesperson for UNICEF, says that this dramatic rise was unexpected: "We can only assume that this is a sense of the desperation that families are going through. When you take your whole family with you it means you don't have schools for your children, you don't have proper shelter, you have no sense of what lies ahead." 

UNICEF has already started to distribute winter clothes, children's footwear, blankets, hygiene kits and other equipment to countries with the highest number of children on the move, namely Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and, soon, Slovenia and Greece. 

Nicki Chadwick, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 55"

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