Creating new perspectives since 2009

Red Cross warns hunger in Gaza ‘beyond catastrophic’

February 8, 2024 at 5:49 pm

Palestinian people holding empty bowls try to reach out for food distributed by volunteers at donation point as Israeli attacks continue in Rafah, Gaza on January 26, 2024. [Abed Rahim Khatib – Anadolu Agency]

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned the international community about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, saying hunger has reached “beyond catastrophic” proportions, Anadolu Agency reports.

The inadequate humanitarian aid delivery in Gaza and the collapse of the health system are exacerbating the people’s hunger level, IFRC spokesperson, Tommaso Della Longa, told Anadolu, referring to the Israeli army siege of the enclave amid continuous bombardments.

“There is some aid and some trucks of aid entering the Gaza Strip. Now is a question. Is this enough? Is not. The number of trucks should be way more,” he insisted.

However, there is a problem with safe access throughout Gaza, Longa said, expressing his concern that  “I think that the situation humanitarian situation in Gaza Strip is beyond the catastrophic.”

To meet the people of Gaza’s humanitarian needs in a proper and dignified manner, much more humanitarian aid is required. But first, the safety and safe access to deliver the humanitarian aid” must be ensured, he suggested.

READ: UN says destruction in Gaza amounts to ‘grave breach’ of Fourth Geneva Convention, war crime

Humanitarian aid has been delivered with the agreement of warring parties, as well as the support of regional and international stakeholders, he said, emphasising: “Of course, we will need more and more diplomatic efforts. But I will say that, first and foremost, fighting needs to stop to create safe humanitarian spaces in an environment where we can reach the entire Gaza Strip.”

For example, the north of Gaza, where thousands of people continue to flee, is nearly inaccessible, he said, warning that “the health care situation is extremely concerning”.

The IFRC is doing its best in the field in collaboration with the Egyptian and Palestinian Red Crescents, he said, adding that the organisation’s concerns have already been communicated to them in bilateral discussions.

“So, I just want to remind (you) that the only moment where we were able to have a higher number of tracks was during the last truce that happened in the Gaza Strip. So I think that is a sign of the importance of finding a political agreement. So then humanitarians can do their own work,” he emphasised.

When asked if there is a risk that Gaza hospitals will cease to provide services, he responded: “Of course, the risk is there. And when I’m saying that less than 30 per cent of the facilities in Gaza Strip are still barely running is already telling you a lot, I think, of a health system that is mainly collapsed or almost collapsed.”

He said they must recognise the efforts of doctors and nurses in the Gaza Strip, “because without them, most probably any other system would have collapsed already”.

“The health care system is in a critical state,” he said, suggesting that the only way to improve is to return to their original request.

“I mean, if you want easy, uniform, very complicated to put it in a practical way on the ground, but we need to have more humanitarian aid, we need to have more access. And, of course, we need to stress and highlight to call on all the parties that hospitals, ambulances and workers must be protected and respected,” he stressed.

He said the longer the conflict continues, the greater the humanitarian needs will be.

The situation is deteriorating every other minute, he said, adding, “I will say in the last weeks and months, where for a father or mother to find the baby formula or even food for their own children, it is very difficult and sometimes it’s impossible.”

He added that nearly 2.2 million civilians live in Gaza, with 1.8 million having been displaced multiple times.

He said: “They have to abandon their home without anything most of the time. They were displaced for five, six times. There is no real place to get what they need. So, of course, the food is a major problem, as are water, health and protection.”

READ: Israel possible military operation in Rafah ‘completely catastrophic’: UN envoy