Syrian refugees are seen after they arrived to port of Piraeus by the passenger ships charted by Greek government in Athens, Greece on Jan. 31.
Anadolu Agency—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
February 13, 2016 9:49 AM EST

More refugees arrived in Europe by boat during the first six weeks of 2016 than during the first four months of last year, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced on Friday.

There were more than 80,000 refugees and migrants who arrived in Europe by boat during the first six weeks of 2016, according to the agency. More than one million refugees traveled to Europe in 2015, but not until July did they begin arriving at the rate of more than 2,000 people per day.

“The majority of those arriving in January 2016, nearly 58 per cent, were women and children; one in three people arriving to Greece were children as compared to just 1 in 10 in September 2015,” UNHCR’s spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told reporters.

The news comes as many European countries struggle to handle the influx of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, with some countries imposing more restrictive immigration policies, causing activists to call for a comprehensive European response.

“Other countries are contemplating similar or even more restrictive legislation at a time when European countries need to improve the legal and secure ways to access family reunion and thus combat smuggling,” Fleming said.

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