1.1 million people are now on the brink of famine

  • Post last modified:March 18, 2024
  • Reading time:5 mins read

Famine is projected to occur anytime between now and May in northern Gaza, thanks to Israel‘s ongoing genocide. That’s according to a new report released today from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Famine Review Committee.

As of Monday 18 March, 1.1 million people are now facing ‘catastrophic’ levels of hunger – 50% of the population – according to the UN-backed report.

The panel consists of independent international food security and nutrition experts from the United Nations, governments, and NGOs, including Action Against Hunger, a global nonprofit leader in the movement to end hunger, which has been operating in Gaza since 2005.

1.1 million people in Gaza now in near-famine

In December 2023, the IPC report indicated that 17% of the population was one step away from famine. 18 March’s report reveals a sharp increase: 50% of households in Gaza are experiencing “catastrophic” levels of hunger (IPC Phase 5), which is the most severe crisis level. That’s around 1.1 million people.

Famine-like conditions occur when food security, nutrition and mortality conditions affect at least 20% of the population. Approximately one in three children are now acutely malnourished and two in 10,000 are dying of starvation.

More than half of the total population that are in Phase 5 are located in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Humanitarian access to northern Gaza is nearly impossible, leading to more than 160,000 people being on the brink of starvation. Extreme food insecurity also affects Rafah, which, as a result of internal displacement, is now the most populated area of the Strip.

People are “desperate”

Vincent Stehli, Action Against Hunger’s director of operations, said:

Despite extreme hardship, we continue to work in Gaza, distributing food and water and providing sanitation and hygiene services that have reached more than half a million people since October, 2023. The civilian population is increasingly desperate. We have received reports of people eating animal food, including hay, straw and other feed fit for cattle, goats, and sheep.

Humanitarian assistance remains wholly insufficient to sustain the more than two million people stuck in Rafah.

Three out of 10 Gazans in the south are at risk of starvation. Early reports on malnutrition reveal yet another alarming reality: in northern Gaza, at least 27 have died from malnutrition and dehydration, according to data from the Global Nutrition Cluster and the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

When people suffer from extreme food shortages, death is slow. Pain is intense, with electrolyte imbalances, apathy, fatigue, physical and psychological deterioration, tissue degradation, and damage to key organs.

Gaza: we’ve ‘never seen anything like it’

Stehli said:

We’ve been working in Gaza for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like it. 80% of the children have infectious diseases; 70% have diarrhoea. They don’t have enough food. Health services can’t function. It’s a perfect mix for malnutrition to have devastating impacts. This is just the beginning.

Action Against Hunger has worked in Gaza and the West Bank since 2002 and since October 2023 has been delivering humanitarian assistance in Gaza that includes distribution of fresh and dry food, hot meals, water trucking, solid waste management, and distribution of hygiene kits and shelter. The area’s extremely insecure conditions make operations extremely difficult.

Stehli said:

The cessation of hostilities and the re-establishment of humanitarian space to deliver humanitarian aid and restore services are essential to eliminate any risk of famine. Action Against Hunger continues to advocate for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. Starvation and hunger should never be used as a weapon of war.

Ceasefire, NOW

Action Against Hunger urged all parties to the conflict to take all necessary steps to achieve an immediate and sustained humanitarian ceasefire that ensures the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, and allows for a massive scale-up in the delivery of lifesaving humanitarian assistance.

Action Against Hunger also called on third party states to actively promote and monitor the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2712.

This calls for an urgent humanitarian pause in the fighting and the establishment of safe corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a period sufficient to allow rapid and unimpeded access for humanitarian actors in accordance with international humanitarian law.

You can donate to Action Against Hunger here.

Featured image via TRT World – YouTube

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