Geneva: Some 5,600 people crossed into Macedonia from Greece on Thursday, a jump that highlights the ever-rising numbers of migrants moving through Europe, the UN said on Friday.
"Yesterday 5,600 people crossed from Greece into the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia," UN refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva.
"It is an absolutely dramatic situation," she added, stressing that Macedonia remains a transit country, with most migrants who enter seeking to move elsewhere.
The number of arrivals on Thursday was a significant hike from recent days when between 2,000 and 3,000 flooded across the border each day, and Fleming said it likely marked a new daily record.
She said it was difficult to know how the situation would develop, pointing out that the number of migrants travelling to Europe usually dwindles towards the end of the year when the weather worsens, but that last year the numbers remained steady through the winter.
The UN children`s agency also voiced alarm at the hike in arrivals in Macedonia, warning that more women and children were among the migrants pouring into the country.
"The flood (of people) is steady and increasing," Bertrand Desmoulins, UNICEF`s representative in Macedonia, told reporters in a conference call.
A few months ago, only men were attempting to cross through Macedonia, typically after reaching Greece by sea in hopes of then heading north to Germany and Sweden.
But now a full third of those arriving are women -- many of them pregnant -- and children, according to the agency.
"The people really need to stop and rest," Desmoulins said.
He lamented that the Macedonian authorities were only registering around half of the people crossing the border, which basically blocks the remaining half from access to humanitarian aid distributed at reception centres.
European countries are scambling to try to bridge differences on the continent`s escalating migrant crisis, with the shocking image of a dead Syrian toddler washed up on a beach driving calls for binding refugee quotas.
Europe is facing a huge influx on all sides, with nearly 365,000 migrants and refugees having crossed the Mediterranean, often in flimsy boats and at the mercy of ruthless human smugglers, to reach the continent since January, according to fresh figures from the International Organization for Migration on Friday.
More than 245,000 of them have landed in Greece and more than 116,000 in Italy, it said.
Some 2,700 people have died trying to make the perilous journey.