Sky News last visited the camp in Dunkirk in early November. It is located on a green area of land surrounded by trees behind a sports centre and superstore on the edge of the town.
On our return trip this week we found the place unrecognizable. The football pitch was entirely covered in tents and mud; it’s been raining here for much of the past month.
Until this week, French authorities had prevented charities from accessing the camp with tents and other aid in an attempt to stop the camp from expanding.
Lydia Jones from Cheltenham in the UK has been here for three days. She moved up the coast from the larger “jungle” camp in Calais because she had heard the conditions were worse here.
“People here are living in mud and human faeces. There is aid but until today it hasn’t been allowed in.” she says.
This week, though, the French government opened a semi-permanent section of the camp - the first sanctioned and solid structures since the nearby Sangatte refugee camp was closed 13 years ago.
One hundred and twenty-five new shipping containers, stacked two high on the edge of the camp, provide people who are “psychologically and physically fragile” with better accommodation. They are insulated, heated, equipped with six bunk beds and power sockets.
They don’t have showers or washbasins because there is no water supply or drainage. The complex cost £15m but it feels like a sticking plaster rather than a genuine solution to the problem.
It is clearly good news for the most vulnerable in the camp, but the concern and the reason that this hasn’t been done before is because it could just encourage more people to come.