ANKARA/GENEVA - The Turkish coastguard on Tuesday recovered the bodies of nine migrants including two babies after their boat sank just a short distance from land while trying to reach Europe.

The coastguard said it discovered the boat half capsized only 25 metres (yards) from the coastline after it set off from the western town of Seferihisar in an apparent bid to reach Greece.

Two survivors had been rescued, the coastguard said in a statement, adding that the search was continuing in the Aegean. The nationalities of the victims were not immediately known.

The deaths come after 37 migrants drowned off another part of the Turkish coast on Saturday - in harrowing scenes reminiscent of the death of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler whose tiny body was found lying face down on a Turkish beach in September.

Turkey reached an agreement with the European Union in November to stem the flow of migrants bound for Europe in return for three billion euros ($3.2 billion) in financial assistance.

But the agreement has failed to check the tide of arrivals, many of them refugees from Syria fleeing the conflict in their homeland.

Turkey, which is hosting at least 2.5 million refugees from Syria, has become the main launchpad for migrants fleeing war, persecution and poverty to Europe.

Brussels is pressing Ankara to implement tighter border controls because neither the Turkish-EU deal nor harsh winter conditions appear to have deterred migrants, many of whom pay people smugglers thousands of dollars for the risky crossing.

The Turkish government said on Monday it was working on new legal measures to strengthen penalties for human smuggling by making it an "act of terror and organised crime".

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday that the number of refugees and migrants who perished in the Mediterranean in January alone topped 360.

In January, almost 62,200 migrants and refugees entered Europe through Greece, according to the IOM. Surveys by the Greek authorities indicate that 91 per cent came from three countries - Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, it said.

Meanwhile, the UN said Tuesday that children now make up more than one third of the migrants and refugees making the perilous sea journey from Turkey to Greece, marking a sharp increase in recent months,.

"Children currently account for 36 percent of those risking the treacherous sea crossing between Greece and Turkey," the UN children's agency UNICEF said.

And for the first time since the start of the migrant crisis in Europe, there are now more women and children crossing the border from Greece to Gevgelilja in Macedonia than adult males, spokeswoman Sarah Crowe told reporters.

"Children and women on the move now make up nearly 60 percent," she said.

That compares to June last year, when 73 percent of the migrants on the move were adult males, and when only one in 10 were under the age of 18, she said.

"The implication of this surge in the proportion of children and women on the move are enormous," said Marie Pierre Poirier, UNICEF's special coordinator for the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe.

"It means more are at risk at sea, especially now in the winter, and more need protection on land," she said in a statement.

Underlining her point, the International Organization for Migration said Tuesday that 60 children were among the 272 who died trying to cross from Turkey to Greece by sea in January.

On Tuesday, the Turkish coastguard recovered the bodies of nine migrants, including two babies, after their boat sank.

Large numbers of minors have also arrived in Europe unaccompanied, leaving them vulnerable to trafficking.

On Sunday, EU police agency Europol said more than 10,000 unaccompanied children had disappeared in Europe over the past two years, warning many risked being criminally exploited.

Crowe lamented the lack of clarity around the fate of many migrant children.

This "is really a failure of child protection systems across the region," she told AFP in an interview Monday, referring to Europe. "Procedures need to be a lot faster and children need to be part of that process so they don't fall through the cracks and they do not fall prey to smugglers and traffickers," she said.

In January, almost 62,200 migrants and refugees entered Europe through Greece, the IOM said. Nearly 20,000 of the arrivals, who came mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, were unaccompanied minors, the organization said.