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Gaza residents face catastrophic levels of food insecurity, aid distribution compromised

Gaza residents face catastrophic levels of food insecurity, aid distribution compromised
30 Jan 2024 09:38

SHAABAN BILAL, ABDULLAH ABU DHAIF (RAFAH, CAIRO)

Reem Nada, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP), has highlighted the dire situation in Gaza, where residents are facing extreme hunger after over three months of conflict. According to Nada, the threat of famine is imminent, and the need for assistance is escalating rapidly.

In an interview with Aletihad, Nada detailed the catastrophic levels of food insecurity in Gaza. She emphasised that severe hunger is compromising immune systems, increasing vulnerability to diseases.

Moreover, the spread of infectious diseases in overcrowded shelters is exacerbated by a critical shortage of water, and for weakened children, conditions like diarrhoea can prove fatal.

Nada also raised concerns about the inadequate nutrition for pregnant women, adversely affecting the health of fetuses and newborns. The lack of food, water, and medical aid is particularly acute in northern areas, where humanitarian efforts face severe challenges due to closed crossings and complex inspection processes for incoming trucks.

The efforts to establish aid distribution points are being compromised by ongoing shelling and shifting frontlines, endangering the lives of Gaza’s residents, as well as UN and humanitarian workers.

Nada stressed the urgent need for a substantial change in the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, as the risk of famine increases and the population becomes more susceptible to deadly diseases.

She pointed out that humanitarian aid, in its current state, is insufficient to meet the basic needs of Gaza’s residents. The United Nations, international relief agencies, and NGOs are struggling to deliver enough aid under challenging conditions.

The WFP spokesperson believes that to avert a major catastrophe, it is crucial to provide all forms of aid through every available means, ensuring safe and secure access. This, she asserts, can only be achieved with a permanent end to hostilities.

Meanwhile, data from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) indicates that approximately 570,000 people in Gaza are suffering from extreme hunger. The capacity of humanitarian agencies to provide effective assistance is significantly strained, necessitating a substantial increase in aid.

Palestinian experts and politicians report that thousands of families are unable to secure daily food, leading to numerous deaths, particularly among children, women, and those with chronic illnesses.

Palestinian political analyst Mustafa al-Dahdouh, speaking to Aletihad, described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as beyond catastrophic.

The scarcity of essential food items is profound, and with the conflict entering its fourth month, the situation deteriorates further. Aid delivery is slow, with the Strip receiving a maximum of 150 trucks per day compared to 500 before the war.

A spokesperson for the Red Cross in the Gaza Strip also expressed concern to Aletihad about an impending famine risk, particularly in the northern part of the sector. The spokesperson emphasised that the aid received is far less than what is needed and called for a continuous and safe increase in humanitarian support.

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