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19 Mar, 2024 07:20

‘Catastrophic’ hunger has gripped Gaza – global watchdog

A UN-backed report warns that mass death is imminent without an immediate ceasefire and food supplies
‘Catastrophic’ hunger has gripped Gaza – global watchdog

Famine conditions now exist in the northern part of Gaza, a UN monitor group warned on Monday. Around 300,000 people remain trapped in the area, following months of Israeli bombardment that has left over 31,000 people dead.

The UN-backed report also warns that more than 70% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million faces “catastrophic hunger.” The Integrated Food-Security Phase Classification (IPC) said that mass death is now imminent without an immediate ceasefire and deliveries of food aid to the areas affected by the fighting.

More than a dozen children in Gaza, including newborn babies, have starved to death and many more are at risk from soaring malnutrition. UN aid agencies warned earlier in March that urgently-needed humanitarian aid is being blocked from entering the Palestinian enclave. 

The IPC estimated that two out of every 10,000 people will die daily from starvation, malnutrition, and disease if not helped immediately.

“The actions needed to prevent famine require an immediate political decision for a ceasefire together with a significant and immediate increase in humanitarian and commercial access to the entire population of Gaza,” the report said.

Israel has been criticized by its Western partners since it began launching retaliatory strikes against Hamas militants following their attack on Israel on October 7.

“In Gaza we are no longer on the brink of famine. We are in a state of famine,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said at the opening of a conference on humanitarian aid for Gaza in Brussels on Monday. He also accused Israel of “using starvation as a weapon of war.”

Foreign Minister Israel Katz responded by saying, “Israel allows extensive humanitarian aid into Gaza,” and told Borrell “to stop attacking Israel and recognize our right to self-defense against Hamas’ crimes.”

Efforts to reach a truce between Hamas and Israel are ongoing, with no breakthrough so far as the hostilities continue. Heavy fighting erupted on Monday in and around Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital complex. The Israeli Army said it was combatting Hamas militants there and advised civilians to evacuate.

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