Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Fears of famine grow in Gaza as aid agencies suspend deliveries

By 37ci3 Feb25,2024

JERUSALEM – As a hungry crowd gathers around a food distribution point in Gaza’s southernmost city ProsperityMagdi Hussain patiently waited in line, a dignified figure in the chaos.

His wait was in vain – the food was gone by the time he reached the front.

“For the love of God, every time we come, we leave with nothing,” Hussain told youths eating soup last week while being filmed by an NBC News crew. “Please tell you every time there are 25 people in the house.”

“What kind of life is this?” Huseyn, who turned 60 years old he wondered aloud to no one in particular.

Magdy Hussein waits in line for food in Gaza.
Magdy Hussein waits in line for food in Gaza. NBC News

Hussain’s situation highlights a dark reality for many Gaza, the Israeli army’s ground invasion and aerial bombardment continue. Severe food and water shortages put many at risk of infection and death, according to aid groups, who have repeatedly highlighted the difficulties in delivering aid due to the intensity of combat operations.

Some days no food arrives in the war-torn enclave of Matthew Hollingworth World Food ProgrammeIof The regional director said in an interview from his office in Rafah, where more than 1 million people have sought refuge since Israel began its ground invasion of the strip.

“This is not a logistical problem. It’s not a logistical crisis,” Hollingworth said, adding that food is available but getting it to the enclaves is nearly impossible. “We need access,” he said.

“The level of desperation, hopelessness and despair is truly shocking,” he said. “People are very scared because they don’t know where their next meal is coming from and they don’t know where they’re going to sleep tonight.”

Palestinian children wait in line to receive food prepared by volunteers for Palestinian families displaced to southern Gaza by Israeli attacks, amid the rubble of destroyed buildings in Rafah, Gaza City, on February 10, 2024.
Palestinian children in Rafah wait in line amid the rubble of destroyed buildings to buy food for Palestinian families who have moved to southern Gaza as a result of Israeli attacks, on February 10.Belal Khaled / Anatolia via Getty Images file

Even if aid vehicles are able to enter the enclave, Israeli bombardment prevents aid from reaching those most in need, Hollingworth said, and there is “banditry, fighting and lawlessness” among the desperate population. Israel says it does not restrict the import of humanitarian goods.

On Tuesday, the World Food Program said it was suspending deliveries to northern Gaza until conditions are in place for safe distribution. The agency said in a statement that Israeli bombings, violence against truck drivers and looting of vehicles led to the decision.

It comes a day after the United Nations children’s agency said in a report on Monday that 1 in 6 children in Gaza are acutely malnourished.

A report by the Global Nutrition Cluster, an aid partnership led by UNICEF, found that more than 90% of children under 5 years of age in Gaza eat two or fewer food groups per day, which is known as severe food poverty. A similar percentage is affected by infectious diseases, he added.

Palestinians search for food with empty containers as food is distributed by charity organizations as Israeli attacks continue on Gaza's Rafah city on January 25, 2024.
Palestinians reach out with empty containers as food is distributed by charity organizations as Israeli attacks continue in Rafah, Gaza, on January 25.Abed Zagout / Anatolia via Getty Images file

The report also noted that 80% of homes in the enclave do not have clean and safe water, and the average household has only 1 liter of water per person per day.

In northern Gaza, which has been largely cut off from aid for months after being isolated by the Israeli army, the acute malnutrition rate was 15%, the report said. The report added that the rate was 5% in Rafah, where Palestinians flocking to the crowded border town now fear an Israeli ground operation.

Then the war started Hamas launched attacks against Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and taking about 240 hostages. Israel says 134 hostages remain in captivity, including 130 taken on October 7. It is known that 32 of those hostages died. In November, more than 100 Palestinians were released in exchange for prisoners.

A child breaks a pot to eat in Gaza.
A child breaks a pot to eat in Gaza.NBC News

Gaza’s Ministry of Health reports that more than 29,000 people have died in the enclave since the start of the war, two-thirds of whom are women and children.

Following Monday’s report, UNICEF official Ted Chaiban warned in a statement that Gaza is “poised to witness an explosion in preventable child deaths, which will increase the already intolerable level of child deaths in Gaza.”

For residents like Hussain, who set up home with a group of people in a dilapidated building with no exterior walls, food shortages have become a familiar, grim reality.

“Oh, guys,” an NBC News crew recorded him saying as he returned empty-handed. “There is nothing today. We didn’t get anything.”

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