Middle East crisis: Israel will send team to listen to Biden administration’s concerns about Rafah

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By journalsofus.com

Experts project that northern Gaza will face famine conditions as soon as this month, and that half of the enclave’s population will suffer deadly levels of hunger, according to a new report from the global authority that has ranked food security crises for decades.

The report, released Monday by the global Integrated Food Security Phase Classification initiative, projected that famine is “imminent” for the 300,000 Palestinian civilians in northern Gaza, where such conditions will develop by the end of May. And by mid-July, up to 1.1 million people in Gaza could face what the group characterized as the worst stage of hunger: an “extreme lack of food” and severe levels of starvation, death, destitution and acute malnutrition.

The bar graph shows the proportion of northern and southern Gaza governorates facing different levels of food insecurity, ranging from stress (level 2) to famine (level 5).

Food insecurity levels by region

Deir al-Balah and Khan Younis

Food insecurity levels by region

Deir al-Balah and Khan Younis

The group, created in 2004 by UN agencies and international aid groups, and known as IPC, has classified as a famine only twice: in 2011, in parts of Somalia, and in 2017, in parts of South Sudan. In those countries, relatively small proportions of the population met the group’s criteria for famine conditions. In Gaza, residents of the critically endangered north make up more than 13 percent of the population.

According to the CPI, a famine occurs when three conditions are met: at least 20 percent of households suffer from extreme food shortages; at least 30 percent of children suffer from acute malnutrition; and at least two adults, or four children, per 10,000 people die daily from hunger or diseases related to malnutrition. (Although IPC experts perform and review the analyzes necessary to classify a famine, only the government and senior UN officials can officially make an official statement.)

The report notes that the first condition has already been met and that the second has probably already been met. Gathering data on the third, malnutrition-related deaths, is immensely difficult in a war zone, the group said. The death rate among children appeared higher than among adults, he added, but said it was “impossible to determine.”

At least 27 people, including 23 children, have died from malnutrition, dehydration and lack of baby formula, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Shimon Freedman, spokesman for the Israeli agency that oversees policy for the Palestinian territories, COGAT, reiterated on Monday Israel’s position that it “does not put a limit on the aid that can enter the Gaza Strip.”

And Eylon Levy, an Israeli government spokesman, called the report an “outdated picture” that “does not take into account the latest developments on the ground,” including last week’s important humanitarian efforts. He also said Israel is taking “proactive measures” to expand aid delivery in northern Gaza.

Last week Israel permitted a small World Food Program convoy to deliver food to northern Gaza for the first time since February 20. Following the report’s release, the organization’s chief economist, Arif Husain, warned that “time is running out” for many Gazans. “That’s why children are dying,” he said. “If we don’t get there, they won’t die in 20 or 30 years, they will die in hundreds and thousands.”

Alex de Waal, an expert on humanitarian crises who has written a book on mass starvation, said the situation in Gaza is “unprecedented.”

“None of us who have worked in this field have seen anything like this,” he said. “It’s absolutely shocking.”

The CIP classifies acute food insecurity into five phases, ranging from minimal to catastrophic.

Gaza’s 2.2 million residents are at least at the third, or crisis, level of food insecurity, meaning they do not eat enough and are malnourished. Nearly 40 percent are in the fourth, or emergency, phase, facing extreme food shortages and at increased risk of hunger-related death. And 30 percent are in the most severe stage, indicating that they have almost no food and face critical levels of famine and death.

In December, the group warned that famine could occur within six months unless the fighting stopped immediately and more humanitarian supplies reached the territory. “Since then, the conditions necessary to avoid famine have not been met,” the latest report states.

The Famine Review Committee, a group within the IPC that studied the report’s nutritional analysis, said the famine could be prevented by “an immediate political decision for a ceasefire coupled with a significant and immediate increase in humanitarian and commercial access.” to the entire population of Gaza.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the report “an appalling indictment of the conditions of civilians on the ground.” The hunger crisis, he said, “is an entirely man-made disaster, and the report makes clear that it can be stopped.”

More than five months after Israel’s campaign against Hamas began, hunger experts estimate that almost the entire population of Gaza depends on food aid. Israel has eased restrictions on humanitarian deliveries that it put in place immediately after the Hamas-led attacks on October 7, but aid groups say the aid reaching Gaza is not enough.

UNRWA, the U.N. agency that supports the Palestinians, said Gaza is receiving only a fraction of what is needed to prevent conditions from deteriorating further. Much of that help it doesn’t go much further that where it crosses the border.

Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s top diplomat, urged Israel to allow “free, unhindered and safe humanitarian access.”

“Hunger cannot be used as a weapon of war,” he said in a statement.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz rejected Borrell’s criticism and said the country allows a lot of aid in by air, land and sea.

Amy Schoenfeld Walker, Elena Shao and Farnaz Fassihi contributed with reports.

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