UN Food Security Report Warns of Imminent North Gaza Famine


Palestinians are facing imminent famine in northern Gaza between now and May, a United Nations-backed food security report concluded Monday.

Humanitarian aid groups have warned throughout much of the Israeli war on Hamas militants in Gaza that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are famished because too few aid trucks are being allowed into the territory past Israeli security checkpoints. But the new report is the most specific yet of the dire straits Gaza residents face.

The U.N.-backed Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report said the famine could occur at any time in the coming weeks, with an estimated 210,000 people in northern Gaza facing the most catastrophic hunger peril.

“Continued conflict and the near-complete lack of access to the northern governorates for humanitarian organizations and commercial trucks will likely compound heightened vulnerabilities and extremely limited food availability, … as well as access to health care, water and sanitation,” the report said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “This is an entirely manmade disaster.” He said the report “is exhibit A for the need for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.”

“I call on the Israeli authorities to ensure complete and unfettered access for humanitarian goods throughout to Gaza and for the international community to fully support our humanitarian efforts. We must act now to prevent the unthinkable, the unacceptable, and the unjustifiable,” Guterres said.

Before the shock October 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the start of Israel’s counter-offensive in Gaza, the U.N. estimated that 1% of the territory’s population faced acute malnutrition. But the report said the figure increased to as much as 9.1% in January and 16.5% in February, with children less than two years old affected in even greater numbers, up to 29.2% of the population.

“The upward trend in non-trauma mortality is also expected to accelerate, resulting in all famine thresholds likely to be passed imminently,” the U.N. said.

Numerous countries have pressed Israel to agree to a cease-fire to end the war, now in its sixth month, while the United States, Israel’s chief ally, is trying to negotiate a more limited six-week truce.

The initial Hamas attack killed 1,200 people in Israel and led to the capture of about 250 hostages. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says Israel’s counter-offensive has killed more than 31,000 Palestinians, the big majority of them women and children. Israel says the Palestinian death toll includes thousands of Hamas fighters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday Israel, while trying to negotiate a short-term cease-fire, has no intention of ending the fighting until it erases all vestiges of Hamas control of the narrow enclave on the Mediterranean Sea coastline.

He said that Israeli efforts to allow humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians often have been thwarted by Hamas militants and gangs who have looted the aid trucks and stolen the food for themselves.

Before the war, the food security report said 500 trucks a day, including 150 carrying food, were allowed into Gaza. But the corresponding figures dropped to 90 and 60 by late February.

“Consequently, virtually all households are skipping meals every day and adults are reducing their meals so that children can eat,” the report said.

“In the northern governorates, in nearly two-thirds of the households, people went entire days and nights without eating at least 10 times in the last 30 days,” the report said. “In the southern governorates, this applies to one-third of the households.”__VOA News