Some bunch around flickering fires amid freezing chill winds, others bunch up trying to protect their shivering babies under flimsy canvas sheets.
What some deem a ‘swarm’ of migrants must now trudge through swamps of mud at a refugee wasteland near Dunkirk dubbed the new ‘Jungle’, after the Calais camp now turning many away.
Parents of young children stuck at Grande-Synthe in northern France told Metro of their desperation to escape - and fears for survival.
The camp that used to contain 80 migrants is now cold and insecure home to an estimated 2,500, including about 250 children.
Sub-zero temperatures and heavy rain turning walkways to incessant sludge are putting lives in danger, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres as well as the local town’s mayor.
Britain will this week host a Syria refugee funding summit in London.
Among those calling there for more global aid will be David Cameron, criticised last week for dismissing Grande-Synthe occupants as ‘a bunch of migrants’.
Nine-month-old Las was among the youngsters ailing and wailing with pain and cold during a Metro visit to the camp, 7km from the port and beaches of Dunkirk.
His parents Askandar, 29, and 21-year-old Frishta are among many Kurds dominating Grande-Synthe, having fled from Daesh atrocities.
The Iraqi Kurd family were smuggled over to Europe on a migrant boats that survived the voyage, before hitching their way to France and arriving here a month ago.
Frishta said of her son: ‘He’s very ill - very very cold. He always cries. I’m frightened for him.
‘It’s not safe - the cold, the dirt.’
Aksandar said: ‘We want to go to England. But we have no help. We have no hope. I don’t know what to do next.’
Deza, a 27-year-old Syrian Kurd who says he has relatives in Britain, was among those gratefully accepting second-hand clothes from the back of a van driven in by international volunteers.
He said: ‘We want to go somewhere and get safe, and work. But we’ve been left here to rot.’
Crowds gathered around food distribution points close to the entrance patrolled by wary French police.
Messages daubed on to tree trunks and hoardings include ‘Here you can help make your English paperwork’ and the sardonic ‘Hello, welcome in France the human rights’.
One aid worker walking by appeared to attempt to raise spirits by loudly singing at a chirpy pace Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’.
But the glum faces of people crouched around fires or huddled in tents better - or worse - reflected the grimly miserable surroundings.
Solitary children’s wellies lie sunk in mud, cartoon posters are propped on sticks as makeshift windbreaks, while rats scurry through grime-smeared rubbish.
Common complaints at the camp’s MSF mobile clinic include respiratory infections, scabies and effects of cold, while some have been burnt by attempting to light and maintain fires.
The town mayor of Grande-Synthe encouraged MSF to expand relief efforts after speaking of his fears that someone could soon freeze to death.
Permission has just been given for replacement, improved facilities less than 1km away - not as a solution to the refugee crisis, say organisers, but merely an emergency response to save lives.
MSF, including many British aid workers and volunteers, has begun building the new camp which they hope to finish next month.
The charity is bearing the £1.5million cost of construction, though will not then manage the site’s operations and security.
It should offer better protection against the weather and sanitation to reduce disease - including 500 ‘winterised’ tents.
MSF’s Samuel Hanryon told Metro: ‘It’s surreal and shocking to see these conditions in a country like France, compared to the warzones and disasters where we usually work.
‘These people are paying the price for a lack of co-operation between European countries.
‘They have been so desperate to escape the violence and threats they face back home, but now find themselves stuck somewhere so inhumane.’
Since the Syrian civil war began in 2012, some 6.5million people still inside the country have lost their homes.
Another 4.18million have fled abroad, including official figures of 2.18million in Turkey, 1.08million in Lebanon, 630,000 in Jordan and 245,000 in Iraq.
Britain is second only to the US in terms of unilateral aid since the crisis began - but all the while insisting the focus should be on refugees in and around Syria, not those reaching Europe.
The government has pledged £1.12billion for the region since 2012, so far spending £653million of that.
Achievements include providing 20million food rations, 5million relief packages and 420,000 shelters, as well as getting 250,000 children into schooling.
International development secretary Justine Greening has now vowed to push at this Thursday’s "Supporting Syria" conference for more long-term funding and support to help refugees find jobs and livelihoods.
And she wants other countries to not only contribute far more money but also to agree long-term funding packages rather than short-term, piecemeal efforts.
But she also faces a challenge persuading Syria’s neighbours to lift restrictions that prevent refugees taking paid work - a prospect complicated by political stalemate in Lebanon, without a president since May last year.
Meanwhile, a study last week accused governments worldwide of deceiving the public about how much they are spending to help Syrian refugees.
More than one-third of funds pledged to Syria last year had not been followed through, with up to £267million missing between promises and spending, aid agency Concern Worldwide found.