Friday, March 1, 2024

People in Gaza risk dying of hunger just miles from food trucks: WFP

Hamza a 15-year-old, walks in front of a destroyed building at Omar Al-Mukhtar Street in Gaza City. “I no longer recognize my neighbourhood!” he said

On 15 January, the World Food Programme Executive Director said that “people in Gaza risk dying of hunger just miles from trucks filled with food. Every hour lost puts countless lives at risk. We can keep famine at bay but only if we can deliver sufficient supplies and have safe access to everyone in need, wherever they are.”

The latest Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Phase Classification report confirm that the entire population of Gaza, 2.2 million people, are in crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity.  

The heads of the World Food Programme, UNICEF and the World Health Organization outlined a list of requirements as a part of initiating immediate action regarding the safety of civilians in Gaza amidst the relentless Israeli aggression. 

As Israeli offences surpass their 100th day in Gaza with no sign of production or import of necessities, the shortage of medical assistance, clean water, and food has opened doors to the lethal combination of famine and diseases.

“Humanitarian aid alone cannot meet the essential needs of the Gaza people,” the UN appeal noted. 

Since the time Israel imposed a near-total siege of food into the territory, the residents of Gaza have been provided with food assistance by WFP and medical assistance by WHO. WFP’s first food convoy since the humanitarian pause last November delivered food supplies to 8000 people in Northern Gaza on Thursday, while at Al-Shifa hospital, WHO and its partners assisted in constructing two kitchens that carry the everyday service of 1200 meals and medical supplies to enable the treatment of 1250 children.

However, the probability of diseases and famine due to unending strikes, and bombardments, coupled with a blockade of necessities has renewed the fear of increasing death tolls in the enclave, prompting UN humanitarians to issue a joint appeal calling for fundamental steps regarding aid access. Although the UN agencies refrained from accusing Israel directly, they asserted its role as a decisive factor in the ongoing disturbance across the region, the opening of few border crossings, and the delay of trucks and goods of aid delivery into Gaza.   

“People in Gaza risk dying of hunger just miles from trucks filled with food,” said the head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Cindy McCain. Furthermore, UNICEF highlighted the 30% increase in “child wasting; the most life-threatening form of malnutrition in children”, in Gaza, where 33500 children under the age of five are classified as “especially vulnerable.”

The violence has also led to the destruction of vital infrastructure along with services for health, water, and sanitation, limiting the possibilities of treating disease outbreaks.

“Some of the material we desperately need to repair and increase water supply remains restricted from entering Gaza. The lives of children and their families are hanging in the balance. Every minute counts”, said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. 

As a consequence of these reasons and upcoming fears, the three UN agencies put out a joint statement highlighting the requirements such as: “the opening of new entry routes; more trucks being allowed through border checks each day; fewer restrictions on the movement of humanitarian workers; and guarantees of safety for people accessing and distributing aid.” 

The agencies further highlighted in their appeal, urgent Israeli permission to use a functioning port near the Gaza strip and Northern border crossing sites. “Access to Ashdod port, roughly 40 km to the north, would enable significantly larger quantities of aid to be shipped in and then trucked directly to the badly affected northern regions of Gaza, which few convoys have managed to reach”, the appeal stated. 

To carry out this multi-agency humanitarian operation, the agencies restated the global call for a ceasefire.

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