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UNRWA: Gaza crisis ‘man-made disaster’, famine can be avoided if political will exists

Palestinian children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages of food supplies, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on February 13, 2024. (via Reuters)

The head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, says the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is a “man-made disaster,” calling for urgent steps to deliver aid to the besieged territory.

Philippe Lazzarini made the comments in a Sunday post on X social media platform, saying, “The last time UNRWA was able to deliver food aid to northern Gaza was on January 23.”

“Since then, together with other UN agencies, we have warned against looming famine, appealed for regular humanitarian access, [and] stated that famine can be averted if more food convoys are allowed into northern Gaza on a regular basis,” he noted.

Lazzarini, however, added that the agency’s “calls to send food aid have been denied and have fallen on deaf ears.”

“This is a man-made disaster,” the UNRWA chief asserted, saying, “Famine can still be avoided through genuine political will to grant access and protection to meaningful assistance.”

His remarks came as numerous aid agencies have increasingly voiced concern about the catastrophic situation of ordinary Gazans caught up in Israel's genocidal war.

The UN has frequently warned of looming famine, saying it threatens everyone in Gaza, with the World Food Program describing the situation in the blockaded territory as "unprecedented levels of desperation."

On Friday, the spokesperson for Gaza’s civil defense lamented that the world is watching in silence as Palestinians die of hunger as a result of Israel’s savage military aggression against the territory.

“The suffering of citizens in Gaza ... is worsening daily, as thousands of them are waiting to die either due to hunger or Israeli targeting,” Mahmoud Basal added, noting that “more than 700,000 people are facing starvation and death every moment if Israel continues to prevent the entry of basic food and medical supplies.”

After Israel started its brutal onslaught on Gaza on October 7, 2023, many humanitarian agencies, including UNRWA, had to halt operations there, meaning hundreds of thousands of people would not have access to aid.

According to nutrition screenings conducted at shelters and health centers in January, one in six children under two years old is acutely malnourished in northern Gaza.

The regime’s military aggression against the Gaza Strip has so far killed about 29,700 civilians, mostly women and children, while leaving more than 69,800 others wounded.

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