Nearly 12 times as many refugees crossed the Mediterranean last month - UNHCR

January has been the deadliest month so far

UNHCR, refugees, Europe, dead, Jody Clarke, migrants, Mediterranean, death toll

Migrants and refugees stand around a fire as they try to keep themselves warm inside a camp on the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos | Image: Mstyslav Chernov / AP/Press Association Images

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

Some 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 is Jody Clarke.

He says the profile of migrants has changed too, with almost 55% of refugees last month women and children.

"(It's) quite worrying really because a lot of our research on the ground from talking to people who are 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 in order to get what they are told is necessary documentation and so on" he told Newstalk Breakfast.

"So a lot of very vulnerable people - a lot of single mothers who are coming across as well" he added.