Oxfam has called for urgent measures to reunite lost child refugees with their families on the dangerous road through Serbia.
The charity urged better co-operation between agencies helping the displaced as official reports showed the number of children travelling alone had increased.
Youngsters were sometimes separated while queuing for registration on entry to the Balkan state while others went missing in crowded camps which process thousands of people needing healthcare and other support within a few hours, refugee accounts suggested. Many were reunited along the route.
Oxfam’s humanitarian programme manager in Serbia, Anna Sambo, said: “We urgently need better co-operation between various agencies working with refugees so that when a family loses a child on the road, the alarm can be raised and the child found as quickly as possible.
“At the moment we are seeing increasing numbers of children travelling alone. The dangerous situation can be a trauma for the vulnerable children.
“We want to ensure a presence to support families, women and children because we don’t want them to be alone on their journey.”
A What’s App social network has been established to communicate photographs and other details across Serbia and into Croatia. Lost person meeting points have been established. However, some identity documents have been lost or stolen along the road, migrants said, while taxi drivers preyed on the vulnerable with offers of illegal transport.
Some taxis bypassed official registration points, leaving passengers with extortionate bills for short trips.