Famine expected to start any time in northern Gaza, says IPC

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By journalsofus.com

Famine may already be underway in northern Gaza and risks spreading throughout the besieged enclave, plunging 2.2 million Palestinians into the world’s widest and most serious food crisis, he said on Monday. the main world body on food emergencies.

The new report from a group of international organizations and charities known as Integrated Food Safety Phase Classification Initiative, or IPC, described a dire situation in which up to half of Gaza’s population (1.1 million people) faces catastrophic levels of hunger and starvation between now and July. The most immediately affected areas are in the northern regions, which Israeli forces cut off from the southern half of the enclave and where only a small amount of aid has been able to enter.

Compared to the previous CPI analysis for December 2023, acute food insecurity in the Gaza Strip has deepened and widened, and nearly twice as many people are expected to experience such conditions in July. The most dire projection is based on an escalation of the conflict that will include a ground offensive in Rafah.

In the CPI’s five-level food crisis classification, Gaza now has the highest percentage of the population receiving the most serious rating since the body began reporting in 2004, Beth Bechdol, deputy director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told the Washington Post.

By comparison, today in Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan, where millions of people are experiencing crises and emergency levels of food insecurity, no part of the population currently falls into the worst level of catastrophic food shortages, Bechdol said.

People in areas designated at Level 5 are considered to be “starving” and face a significantly increased risk of acute malnutrition and death.

Therefore, for Gaza to have 1.1 million people in CPI 5 is unprecedented,” he said. And he added: “This is 100 percent a man-made crisis. There is no hurricane, there is no cyclone, there is no 100-year flood. “There is no prolonged drought year after year.”

The report is likely to add fuel to increasingly harsh criticism of Israel by the US and European governments over the grim dimensions of the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza. On Monday, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell repeated his claim that Israel was using hunger as a “weapon of war.” He noted that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had recently told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “we cannot stand by and watch Palestinians starve.”

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on March 18 that Israel is causing famine in Gaza and using hunger as a “weapon of war.” (Video: Reuters)

“In Gaza we are no longer on the brink of famine; “We are in a state of famine that affects thousands of people,” Borrell said at the start of a conference on humanitarian aid for Gaza in Brussels. “This is unacceptable. Hunger is used as a weapon of war.”

“By whom?” she added. “Let us dare to say by whom. “For which it prevents the entry of humanitarian support to Gaza.”

Moamen al-Harthani, a 29-year-old resident of the northern Gaza city of Jabalya, described how people in the north ate weeds and other plants to survive.

“There is no rice, no sugar, no beans, no lentils. …No fruits or vegetables,” Harthani said. “People eat food from animals and livestock,” she said. Unable to find or afford flour, Harthani makes a bread-like substitute from animal feed.

The IPC, an international initiative to classify food insecurity and malnutrition and assesses conditions, it does not issue an official declaration of famine, a decision that is left to the highest local authorities or the highest United Nations official in an affected area. A famine designation would elevate the crisis to a major talking point at the UN Security Council and force high-level crisis talks between humanitarian agencies and groups.

Hamas has already been using the word famine in its official statements for months. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the group planned to formally declare a famine in Gaza.

Also on Monday, a Famine Review Committee made up of leading independent international experts on food security, nutrition and mortality concluded that the CPI’s findings were “plausible” and warned that famine in northern Gaza “it is now projected and imminent.” He noted that the famine conditions that cause acute food insecurity and malnutrition had already been overcome, although it was not clear whether the thresholds for infant mortality and non-traumatic mortality had been met.

A famine in Gaza would come after another hit 80,000 people in South Sudan in 2017 and 490,000 people in Somalia in 2011.

The war has destroyed and disrupted every part of Gaza’s food system: from the fruits, vegetables, livestock and fish raised on farms to the bakeries and factories that produced bread and dairy products. The percentage of damaged agricultural land increased from 25 percent to 60 percent between November 2023 and January 2024, according to the report. It noted that more than 300 barns, 100 agricultural warehouses, 46 agricultural storage facilities, 119 animal shelters, 200 farms and more than 600 wells used for irrigation were destroyed, while most livestock were abandoned, slaughtered or sold.

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims typically have an early morning snack before fasting and then a large meal after the fast ends after sunset. But this year, Gazans told The Post, they are fasting regardless of Ramadan. Since the war began, Harthani said, he has lost about 60 pounds.

Harthani’s wife and six-week-old son moved south to Rafah, where they thought it would be safer. But in Rafah, his wife is also hungry because she cannot afford enough food and formula due to sky-high wartime inflation, he said.

Both the mother and the newborn are weak due to malnutrition. His wife recently developed liver disease, Harthani said.

The latest analysis was conducted remotely between February 26 and March 1 by more than 40 experts from 18 agencies, the IPC said. But the new assessment – the CPI’s bleakest yet – suggests that northern Gaza is already in the grip of famine or could reach that point any time in May.

The latest report’s findings confirm warnings from the UN and other aid agencies in recent months of imminent famine in parts of Gaza, absent a ceasefire. At least 27 children have died of malnutrition in recent weeks, local health officials said, underscoring the great need.

Humanitarian officials blame the hunger crisis in the north on limited aid entry points, a slow Israeli inspection process and Israeli attacks on UN aid convoys and the police protecting them. them. Israel denies limiting the flow of aid to Gaza. He has accused the United Nations of failing to distribute food aid to those in need or diverting it to Hamas.

Aid shipments, according to the report, have been limited by direct attacks on humanitarian convoys, detentions of humanitarian personnel, road closures, checkpoints and related blockades or delays in major transportation corridors, according to the report. Road damage from shelling and heavy military vehicle traffic, as well as some 12,000 metric tons of debris, have added to the complications.

Palestinian officials say more than 100 people were killed and 700 injured in Gaza City late last month after desperate civilians rushed an aid convoy, an incident that prompted the Biden administration to launch food drops. in Gaza and express growing frustration with Israeli controls on aid convoys in the enclave.

According to the report, virtually all Gaza households skip meals every day and adults cut back on their meals so children can eat. In northern Gaza, people in almost two-thirds of all households went entire days and nights without eating at least 10 times in the past 30 days, and 1 in 3 children under 2 years of age were “acutely malnourished.” In the southern parts of the enclave, around a third of households faced conditions of going days and nights without food.

The report blames the famine-like conditions in Gaza on “widespread, intense and unrelenting conflict” that has forced an estimated 1.9 million people, or 85 percent of Gaza’s population, to flee their homes. , with more than 31,000 deaths and 73,000 injuries reported by Gaza health authorities. Added to this are massive losses in infrastructure, including food production and distribution, and extremely limited humanitarian access.

“The escalation of hostilities has stopped the supply of water, food and fuel, causing the collapse of all food-related sectors, including vegetable production, livestock production, fishing and aquaculture,” said Máximo Torero Cullen, FAO chief economist. “Around 60 to 70 percent of the meat and dairy-producing livestock in Gaza have been killed or culled prematurely to meet the extreme food needs arising from the conflict.”

A previous CPI assessment of Gaza in December concluded that its The entire population was severely food insecure and at risk of famine.

While ongoing hostilities are a key factor in the rapidly deteriorating situation, “extremely limited humanitarian access” to and within the Gaza Strip has made matters worse, according to the report.

In addition to airdrops of small amounts of food, the first shipment of aid by sea sent by a non-profit organization World Central Kitchen arrived in Gaza last week. But experts say this alone cannot contain the emergency.

Ahmed Najjar, 29, a resident of the northern city of Jabalya, is among thousands of Gazans who for weeks have gathered late at night at key points to try to intercept food trucks entering the north. .

On Thursday night, more than 20 people were killed at the Kuwait roundabout in Gaza City, according to Palestinian officials, who said Israeli forces fired into the crowd. The Israeli army blamed Palestinian gunmen. The Post could not independently confirm these accounts. Najjar said there was shelling by Israeli forces. He watched as the wounded and dead were carried out from the center of the crowd around the trucks and left without flour.

“The strong eat,” he said of the situation. “The weak die.”

Beatriz Ríos contributed to this report.

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