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UNICEF warns that malnutrition-related death of 23 children in Gaza just 'tip of iceberg'

March 18, 2024 at 2:57 pm

Fadi Al-Zant, a 6-year-old cystitis patient, is being treated at Kamal Adwan Hospital under harsh conditions due to lack of access to medicines, and is suffering from malnutrition due to the ongoing Israeli blockade in Beit Lahia, Gaza on March 10, 2024. [Mousa Salem – Anadolu Agency]

The “painful and slow death” of 23 children in the north of Gaza due to malnutrition and dehydration “would be the tip of the iceberg” as only those who reached hospitals are recorded, UNICEF’s deputy executive director warned on Monday. Ted Chaiban made his remarks during a panel on the humanitarian situation in Gaza at the two-day European Humanitarian Forum 2024 in Brussels, Anadolu has reported.

Chaiban stressed that one in every three children in Gaza’s north is acutely malnourished. “There needs to be faster [aid] inspections at both Rafah and Kerem Shalom so that the population can get the support it needs. This is a deliberate squeezing of humanitarian space.”

Regarding the alternative aid routes, he said that every route should be used, but added, “The bottom line is the first shipment that came in by sea will be able to be the equivalent of 12 to 13 trucks. There are hundreds of trucks waiting on the border in Egypt as we speak.”

About possible population evacuation scenarios, Belgian Development Cooperation Minister Caroline Gennez warned that evacuating “too many people” can cause other serious problems.

“We have to prevent genocide, we have to make sure that we prevent ethnic cleansing, we have to make sure that we prevent resettlement,” said Gennez. “So, we should also be very careful on evacuating too many people because it might be what the Israeli government wants or some settler movements certainly want. We have to make sure that we don’t play a cynical game that serves the agenda of the settler movements.”

According to the director of the Association of International Development Agencies, Faris Arouri, without a full and permanent ceasefire, any presence on the ground would be “inadequate”. The world cannot, he insisted, feed people simply so that they can die with a full stomach.

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