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Half a million Gazans face 'catastrophic food insecurity' as 90% of children malnourished

A Palestinian girl who suffers from cancer and malnutrition is seen at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on June 24, 2024 (Photo by Reuters)

A UN report has warned that half a million Palestinians in Gaza are facing catastrophic levels of hunger as a high risk of famine remains across the whole of the Gaza Strip after a new round of Israeli violence in recent weeks.

The latest “Special Snapshot” of Gaza from the UN’s hunger monitoring system, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), said that one in five of the population – more than 495,000 people – are now “facing catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity” involving “an extreme lack of food, starvation, and exhaustion”.

It said the situation had “started deteriorating again following renewed Israeli hostilities” and “a high risk of famine persists across the whole of the Gaza Strip as long as conflict continues and humanitarian access is restricted.”

“More than half [of Gaza households] reported that, often, they do not have any food to eat in the house, and over 20% go entire days and nights without eating. The recent trajectory is negative and highly unstable. Should this continue, the improvements seen in April could be rapidly reversed.”

Meanwhile, Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), said on Tuesday that the dire conditions in northern Gaza have reached catastrophic levels, leaving tens of thousands of families in a state of starvation.

The catastrophic situation in Gaza is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis, with some families barely managing to eat one meal every two to three days, Abu Hasna stated.

“Severe hunger is on the rise in the southern region of the Gaza Strip, home to 75% of the population, with a staggering 90% of children in the area experiencing malnutrition,” he said, calling for urgent solutions to stop the specter of famine in the Gaza Strip.

According to reports of the UN and humanitarian organizations, 50,000 children are urgently in need of medical care for acute malnutrition.

In addition to shortages of food, hundreds of thousands are facing severe shortage of potable water in the besieged territory. The crisis has worsened with the destruction of desalination plants and fuel shortages, and sewage seeping into territory's underground reservoir, he added.

He further noted that providing aid to the Gaza Strip has become an immense and unprecedented challenge, calling for “an end to the war, for Israel to open crossings and humanitarian corridors, and increasing the volume of aid.”

“The continuation of the current conditions makes the situation in Gaza the worst in history, and an unbearable hell,” he underlined.

His remarks come as UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini on Monday expressed deep concerns about the dire state of health facilities in Gaza, stating that the local health system is collapsing under the strain of continuous “Israeli bombardments and ground operations.”

“Gaza has been decimated,” Lazzarini said, adding that children that are dying of malnutrition and dehydration, while food and clean water wait in trucks.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has also sounded the alarm, reiterating that despite the dire situation facing the people in Gaza, including innocent children, the Israeli regime forces continue to surround the area and block the entry of water, food, and medicine.

UN agencies have repeatedly warned of severe shortages of essential supplies in Gaza, worsened by limited land access and the shutdown of the Rafah crossing with Egypt following its seizure by Israeli forces in early May.

Israel’s genocidal war has claimed the lives of nearly 37, 626 people, mostly women and children, and wounded over 86,098 Palestinians since October last year.

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