UN experts: Over 500,000 facing starvation in Gaza

Date: 28/02/2024     Time: 7:55 AM

Two UN experts warned that over 500,000 --one quarter of the population -- are facing starvation in the Gaza Strip due to the ongoing Israeli military onslaught, which prevent aid and food from reaching the people. This came during the Security Council session on Tuesday, under the "Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts" to search for the food risks in the Gaza Strip. The Council received briefings from (OCHA) Head in Geneva and Director of the Coordination Division Ramesh Rajasingham and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Deputy Director-General Maurizio Martina. "As grim as the picture we see today is, there is every possibility for further deterioration," Rajasingham said referring to the military operations that led to the destruction of food production and agriculture. He mentioned the warnings of the Food security experts of complete agricultural collapse in northern Gaza by May if conditions persist, with fields and productive assets damaged, destroyed, or inaccessible. The hostilities and shortages of essential supplies, including electricity, fuel and water, led to food production at a virtual standstill and risks of starvations, he added Heavy damage to water infrastructure from fighting and the severing of power and fuel supplies significantly affected civilians especially the malnourished people, among thousands of injured made them more susceptible to diseases. He also said, that the malnutrition among children and pregnant and breastfeeding women in the Gaza strip was a particularly grave concern. He confirmed that the workers in the humanitarian filed were facing obstacles just to deliver the minimum supplies in Gaza, alongside the necessary escalation of the multispectral response to avert famine. He affirmed the UN's efforts continued to be beset by crossing closures, serious movement restrictions, access denials, onerous vetting procedures, restrictions on communications and protective equipment, and impassable supply routes due to damaged roads and unexploded ordnance. On his side (FAO) Deputy Director-General Maurizio Martina said that 2.2 million people in Gaza were experiencing catastrophic levels of food insecurity due to the war with the risk of famine increasing day by day. The civilian infrastructure, including essential food production, processing and distribution facilities were severely damaged or become difficult to access, he added. The destruction affected the commercial sector, as a result of Israeli occupation's authorities on the region, which led to rapid depletion of imported food stocks and disrupted the food supply chain, he added. He further elaborated that before the war, Gaza's food production enabled self-sufficiency in most fruits and vegetables; however, the war significantly hindered this capacity. He emphasized the need to cease hostilities and restore humanitarian realm for the provision of multi-sectoral assistance, along with the restoration of critical services, were the fundamental initial steps in averting the famine threat. He stated that an immediate ceasefire and peace are important factors for food security, as he called all parties to respect their obligations under the international humanitarian law and international human rights law to protect civilians.