Nearly one in 10 migrants in the Eastern Mediterranean region has encountered human traffickers or people trying to exploit their situation, a survey by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) showed on Friday.
The Geneva-based aid and advocacy group has polled 2,400 refugees and migrants in Greece, along the Balkan route and in Hungary since December.
"Since crimes of human trafficking and exploitation are clandestine by their very nature, these experiences are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg," said Mathieu Luciano, who heads an IOM unit that helps vulnerable migrants.
Among the surveyed migrants, 7.2 per cent said they had been directly exposed to such experiences during their journey.
These included working without payment or being forced to work against their will. Others said that they were approached by people offering to arrange a marriage or that they were held at some location against their will.
A further 1.4 per cent reported that one of their family members had faced such situations.
In addition, 0.9 per cent said they knew of cases in which migrants were offered cash for donating their blood, organs or body parts.
The IOM survey showed that younger migrants and those who are travelling alone are at a higher risk of exploitation.
Afghans, Syrians and Pakistanis reported such experiences more often than other nationalities.
IOM urged police agencies along the migration route to step up efforts to prevent such crimes and to help victims.
Counter-trafficking specialists should be placed at key border crossings, registration centres and reception sites, the organization said.
The United Nations defines human trafficking as cross-border crimes in which people are coerced into exploitative situations including work, sexual exploitation or organ removal, even if they have given their consent.
This crime is different from people smuggling, which involves illegal and often dangerous transportation of migrants to get them to their destinations.