A passenger ferry with more than 1,000 refugees on board arrived on Wednesday 13 January at Greece's port of Piraeus, as the influx of people fleeing conflict zones with their families continued unabated into the winter months. The non-profit Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has been treating refugees and migrants landing on Greek islands, said on social media on 12 January that 31% of arrivals to Europe in 2016 have been children, and that about 5,700 children crossed the narrow but dangerous sea passage between Greece and Turkey in just 12 days, aboard rickety, overcrowded boats.
More than 1m refugees and migrants braved the seas in 2015 seeking sanctuary in Europe, nearly five times more than in the previous year, according to the United Nations' refugee agency, with most entering through Greece. Many have left their homes and families behind, or are joining family who have already fled their war-torn countries.
"I leave my home, my country [because] there was violence, my security was no good, it not was safe," said Idris, an 18-year-old who wants to study in Germany.
Dunya and her young cousins are also headed to Germany. The 27-year-old left Aleppo, Syria because of constant bombings, and waited for her relatives to make it into Europe first. "I go Germany, my family in Germany," said Dunya.
Salam, from Homs, said he had lived in a number of other cities before the constant killing led him and his friends to leave Syria. "In Homs, destroyed. And kill the children, and women and children and men. Very very very bad in Syria," said the 25-year-old, who also hopes to reach Germany.
As the refugees disembarked from the ferry, volunteers passed out hot tea and fruit to help them get through the next leg of their journey, an eight-hour bus ride from Athens to Greece's northern border with Macedonia. A record number of people fled their homes in 2015, with more than 60m people uprooted by wars, conflict and persecution in countries ranging from Syria to South Sudan and Afghanistan, according to the United Nations.