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Gazans face imminent starvation risk amid conflict, WFP warns

November 16, 2023 at 8:56 pm

Palestinians, who migrate to the southern and central parts of the Gaza Strip due to Israeli attacks, cook after they set up tents around the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital for shelter in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on November 15, 2023. [Ashraf Amra – Anadolu Agency]

Residents in the Gaza Strip, which is under an Israeli siege, are facing potential starvation, a World Food Programme (WFP) official warned Thursday, Anadolu Agency reports.

With winter fast approaching and the unsafe and overcrowded shelters that lack clean water, people are facing the immediate possibility of starvation

said Abeer Etefa, WFP spokesperson for the Middle East and North Africa.

Etefa spoke at a virtual UN news conference alongside Juliet Touma, Communications Director at the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), about the situation in the Palestinian enclave.

Etefa briefed reporters from Cairo and said Gazans are becoming more desperate every day in their search for bread and essential foods.

“Bread is a way of luxury,” she said.

“We already started to see cases of dehydration and malnutrition, which is increasing rapidly and by the day,” said Etefa. “With only 10 per cent of necessity food supplies and drink in Gaza since the beginning of this conflict, we’re now facing a massive food gap.”

READ: UN Palestinian Agency says Gaza operations being deliberately strangled 

She stressed that 2.2 million residents, which is nearly the entire population of the Gaza Strip, are now in need of food assistance.

“Food production has come to an almost complete halt,” said Etefa.

She added that for those fortunate enough to find food, “this meal will include maybe a canned food.”

Etefa stressed to meet the growing needs inside Gaza, the number of trucks that are crossing with food assistance needs to be increased.

“There is no way to meet the current hunger needs with the current situation,” she said. “We have to have a different space that allows us to have safe access and to have the flowing of goods inside Gaza.”

The collapse of the food supply chain is “catastrophic” and said the situation before the conflict was difficult but now it is “disastrous,” she said.

‘Medieval age’

Touma said Gaza currently looks like it has been hit by an earthquake, “except it is man-made”.

It could have been totally avoided. We have just witnessed in the past week, the largest displacement of Palestinians since 1948

she said.

Children in shelters are pleading for a sip of water and a piece of bread, she said. They have to wait two to three hours to go to the bathroom.

“All of this brings us back to the medieval age,” she added.

Israel has launched relentless air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip since a cross-border attack by the Palestinian group, Hamas, on 7 October.

At least 11,500 Palestinians have since been killed, including more than 7,800 women and children, and over 29,200 injured, according to the latest figures from Palestinian authorities.

A group of UN experts recently warned that Palestinians are “at a grave risk of genocide” as the Israeli government imposed a total blockade, cutting off the water, food and electricity supplies to Gaza.

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