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Humanitarian crisis deepens: 576,000 people in Gaza on brink of famine

UN warns of an imminent humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza as 576,000 people, one-quarter of the population, face famine. Urgent action is needed to address the obstacles hindering aid delivery.



children in Gaza
(Photo: UNRWA)

In a dire update to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday (27 Feb), Ramesh Rajasingham, deputy chief of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), emphasized the alarming situation in the Gaza Strip.

Currently, at least 576,000 people, constituting one quarter of the population, are on the brink of famine.

Rajasingham warned that without urgent action, widespread famine in Gaza could become “almost inevitable.”

Speaking at the UNSC meeting on food security in Gaza, Rajasingham pointed out the challenging circumstances hampering humanitarian efforts.

“Very little will be possible while hostilities continue and while there is a risk that they will spread into the overcrowded areas in the south of Gaza. We therefore reiterate our call for a ceasefire,” said Rajasingham.

Providing a harrowing perspective on the impact of the crisis, Rajasingham revealed that one in six children under the age of two in northern Gaza is currently suffering from acute malnutrition and wasting.

Additionally, he underscored the grim reality that virtually the entire population of 2.3 million people in the Palestinian enclave relies on “woefully inadequate” food aid for survival.

Expressing the urgent need for intervention, Rajasingham emphasized the potential for a catastrophic outcome if nothing is done.

He warned that widespread famine in Gaza could have devastating consequences, further escalating the conflict and resulting in more victims.

“If nothing is done, we fear widespread famine in Gaza is almost inevitable and the conflict will have many more victims,” he said.

Highlighting the formidable challenges faced by the UN and aid groups, Rajasingham outlined the obstacles hindering the delivery of essential supplies to Gaza.

These challenges include the closure of crossings, restrictions on movement and communication, stringent vetting procedures, civil unrest, damaged infrastructure, and the presence of unexploded ordnance.

Humanitarian crisis in Gaza intensifies as aid deliveries face obstacles

In Geneva, Jens Laerke, another spokesman for OCHA, addressed reporters, shedding light on the challenges faced in delivering aid to Gaza due to Israel’s actions.

Laerke emphasized that aid convoys have faced gunfire and are consistently denied access to those in need.

Furthermore, humanitarian workers have encountered harassment, intimidation, and detention by Israeli forces, while crucial infrastructure has been targeted.

The World Food Programme (WFP) expressed its readiness to expand operations swiftly in the event of a ceasefire agreement.

However, Carl Skau, the WFP’s deputy executive director, stressed the growing risk of famine, attributing it to the difficulty of bringing critical food supplies into Gaza and the extremely challenging operating conditions for staff on the ground.

“If nothing changes, a famine is imminent in northern Gaza,” Skau warned.

Earlier this month, the WFP suspended the delivery of food aid to northern Gaza, which had been nearly isolated from assistance since late October.

This decision followed instances where WFP convoys faced Israeli gunfire and were subject to looting by desperate and hungry Palestinians.

UN agencies reported that all planned aid convoys to the north have been denied by Israeli authorities in recent weeks.

Highlighting the alarming decline in humanitarian aid, Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, reported a 50% reduction in aid entering Gaza in February compared to January.

Lazzarini attributed this decline to various obstacles, including regular crossing point closures, security concerns from military operations, the breakdown of civil order, and a lack of political will.

He emphasized the urgent need to address the substantial needs of the 2 million Palestinians living in desperate conditions.

“Aid was supposed to increase not decrease to address the huge needs of 2 million Palestinians in desperate living conditions,” Lazzarini stated.

Israel’s conflict with Gaza, currently in its fifth month, has resulted in the tragic loss of at least 29,878 Palestinian lives, predominantly affecting women and children.

The hostilities commenced when Hamas, the governing armed group in Gaza, initiated attacks within Israel on October 7, causing the death of 1,139 people and the capture of 253 others.

In response, Israel launched a sustained military campaign involving daily air attacks, a ground offensive into north and central Gaza, and the closure of all but one crossing point into the territory.

This extensive operation has left much of the Palestinian enclave devastated, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis.

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Under the PLO, mostly terrorists and terrorist supporters stay in Gaza. What do you think?

Gazans simply need to hand over the Hamas leaders (who brought this war upon the people) to the Israelis and renounce terrorism. Then this war can and will end very fast, it is that SIMPLE. The PA (the rightful successor to the PLO) had already signaled recognition for Israel to exist, like Jordon, Egypt and Syria. That’s why there has been peace in the south (Egypt) and west (Jordon) for near 30 years. Only Hamas, a fanatical faction of the “Palestinians”, is holding back because it wants wrestle power from the PA.

And the whole world (well, except for the Houthis) is simply watching ….