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1 in 3 children under 2 years acutely malnourished in northern Gaza: UN agency

March 17, 2024 at 10:46 am

Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza, queue to receive food distributed by aid organizations on March 15, 2024. [Jehad Alshrafi – Anadolu Agency]

One-third of children under the age of two in northern Gaza is now acutely malnourished, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA said on Saturday, Anadolu Agency reports.

“Children’s malnutrition is spreading fast and reaching unprecedented levels in Gaza,” UNRWA said on X.

The UN agency stressed, “famine is looming. There is no time to waste.”

On Friday, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said: “31 per cent – or 1 in 3 children under 2 years of age – in the northern Gaza Strip suffer from acute malnutrition, a staggering escalation from 15.6 per cent in January.”

“Even in Rafah, the southern enclave with the most access to aid, the results from screenings among children under 2 years doubled from 5 per cent who were acutely malnourished in January to about 10 per cent by the end of February,” it added.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack led by Hamas in which 1,163 people were killed.

More than 31,500 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have since been killed in Gaza, and 73,546 others injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of most food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to ensure its forces do not commit acts of genocide, and guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

READ: Palestine: Unity of land, people and struggle