Thousands of refugees in northern France are living in squalid conditions inside camps with little to no official help, activists say.

Volunteers helping residents of a camp near Dunkirk told Al Jazeera that conditions are deteriorating as hundreds of new arrivals make their way to the settlements.

The sprawling tent city is currently home to 2,500 people who want to head north across the English Channel to the UK.

An even larger camp exists to the north of Dunkirk in Calais, where the refugees have formed a settlement known as The Jungle.

The Calais camp has taken on a semi-permanent feel, with wooden structures, churches, bars, and schools popping up.

At Dunkirk, however, refugees including children are living without access to running water, sanitation, and effective protection from the elements.

One volunteer, called Phoenix, told Al Jazeera that the French state was doing little to help.

"When I get a call in the middle of the night asking for help with a baby that's going blue, I get really angry that I'm put in a situation where I feel like somebody's life depends on my decision," she said.

"I feel untrained, unsupported and unqualified ... it's frustrating."

Most of those living in a nearby village have also done little to help the refugees. The area is a stronghold of the anti-immigration National Front part, which polled 40 percent of votes in recent elections.

Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee reports from northern France.


Source: Al Jazeera