UN warns of “almost inevitable” famine in Gaza and “imminent” in the north

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As 15,000 tonnes of food await in Egypt, the United Nations calls for “respect for humanitarian law”.

On Tuesday, the UN “Widespread famine is almost inevitable” In the Gaza Strip, especially in the north of the Palestinian Territory under Israeli blockade, with no humanitarian access and a devastated agricultural system, it “immediately”. “If nothing changes, famine looms in northern Gaza”Carl Schau, Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP), UN.

No vehicle has been able to reach northern Gaza since January 23, according to the UN, which condemns the blockade by Israeli authorities. The northern part of the Palestinian territory is not the only area at risk after the nearly five-month war between Israel and Hamas, which was sparked by an unprecedented attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement on October 7 that has resulted in at least one death toll. An AFP count of 1,160 people, mostly civilians, based on official Israeli data.

“Ensuring Respect for Humanitarian Law”

“If nothing is done, we fear widespread famine in Gaza is almost inevitable”Ramesh Rajasingham added on behalf of Martin Griffiths, head of the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “It's the end of February, and at least 576,000 people in Gaza – a quarter of the population – are one step away from famine.”And practically all of the 2.2 million people “Depends on inadequate humanitarian aid to survive”he added. “As bad as the picture is today, it could get worse”. The meeting followed a note sent by Martin Griffiths to the Security Council on February 22, detailing the effects on food security of the Israeli offensive, which killed nearly 30,000 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas Health Ministry.

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In this speech, seen by AFP on Tuesday, he calls on the council to act “Ensuring respect for humanitarian law, including the prohibition of the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare”He insists. “Most likely, agricultural production in the north will fall by May”Maurizio Martina, Deputy Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), underlined this before the Council on Tuesday.

Egypt has 15,000 tons of food shortages

As of February 15, 46.2% of agricultural land in the Gaza Strip was damaged, including agricultural buildings “destroyed”, more than a quarter of wells were destroyed, killing about 70% of cows and 50% of small ruminants, he noted. And 97% of groundwater is no longer usable for human consumption. Humanitarian aid continues to enter the Palestinian territories, but slowly. On Monday, the UN for Palestinian refugees The head of the agency (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, noted in X that February saw a 50% drop in aid flows into Gaza compared to January.

Still, “Almost 1,000 trucks loaded with 15,000 tons of food are in Egypt ready to move”UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric noted on Tuesday. “It is not Israel that is blocking these trucks”Deputy Israeli Ambassador Jonathan Miller responded to the Security Council, refusing “wrong” The UN and its inability to organize this aid “effectively”. “There is absolutely no limit to the amount of humanitarian assistance that can be provided to the citizens of Gaza (…)”He pledged that Israel had rejected 16% of requests for aid since the beginning of 2024. “Dangers” That is specific products “Ends in Hands” of Hamas.

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The Secretary-General and UN humanitarian agencies have been calling for an immediate ceasefire since the start of the war, specifically to allow adequate humanitarian aid to be delivered.

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