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Dunkirk: inside the unseen camps

Children laugh and play with a pushchair in the Grand-Synthe camp Credit: ITV Yorkshire

At first glance, the Grand-Synthe camp is not dissimilar to a campsite you might find anywhere. Row after row of tents arranged around a field where children play, with some very basic toilet facilities. But this is no holiday. The tents and their contents are all these families have.

"When you see the whole family leaving then you know the situation is more desperate as oppose to just one individual leaving."

– Mohammed Rahman, Human Relief Foundation
A child plays with toy cars in the Grand-Synthe camp Credit: ITV Yorkshire

We’re just 30 miles from the notorious Calais Jungle, but this is an entirely different set-up. Children play with the few possessions they have - a pushchair, toy cars, and the balloons brought in by the charity to lift the mood for the evening. We meet a woman who is seven months pregnant. Her husband pleads with us to help them.

'There's no managing here, no help here, no doctor. Please you help me."

– Riajbani Fekari, from Iran, whose wife is heavily pregnant
People hurry to clear away the piles of unwanted clothes we see on our arrival Credit: ITV Yorkshire

We're here to follow as a charity serves a dinner for the 300 people who live in the camp. An orderly queue forms as the residents take charge of serving the vats of curry and rice.

With a hot meal in sight, the mood is brighter Credit: ITV Yorkshire

As the food is served, it seems this camp might be a friendlier place than the vast Jungle shanty town. But we've been told that people traffickers operate here, and notice clusters of men watching on from a distance, surveying the evening's events. They know that these families are desperate to reach the UK, either to escape persecution, or simply for what they believe will be a better life for their children. In days to come, some will risk everything to achieve that dream.

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