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Middle East

Southern Gaza's hunger crisis worsens amid ongoing conflict

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  • The hunger crisis in southern Gaza, particularly in Rafah, has reached critical levels due to ongoing military operations and restricted access to humanitarian aid.
  • Over 495,000 people in Gaza are facing the highest level of food insecurity, with many on the brink of starvation.
  • Urgent international intervention is needed to ensure safe and sustained access for humanitarian aid and to prevent a full-scale famine in Gaza.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has escalated to alarming levels, with the southern region, especially Rafah, bearing the brunt of the conflict. The ongoing military operations have not only displaced thousands but also severely restricted access to essential supplies, leading to a deepening hunger crisis.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the situation in Rafah is dire. "We’ve not been able to access our warehouse in Rafah for more than a week. We have very little food and fuel coming through the border crossings in the south," stated Matthew Hollingworth, WFP Country Director for Palestine. The militarization around Rafah has created significant obstacles for humanitarian aid, making it nearly impossible to deliver food and other essential supplies to the affected population.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) has highlighted that Gaza is experiencing one of the most acute hunger crises in the world. Over 495,000 people, representing more than a fifth of Gaza's population, are facing the highest level of food insecurity, with many on the brink of starvation. The situation is particularly severe in southern Gaza, where the ongoing conflict has disrupted food production and distribution channels.

The WFP has been working tirelessly to provide food aid to the affected regions. However, the challenges are immense. "We are always trying hard but failing currently to bring in consistent volumes of food. We know we need additional entry points. Every new entry point is a new artery, pumping lifeblood into Gaza," Hollingworth emphasized. The need for multiple and consistent entry points for humanitarian aid is crucial to prevent a full-scale famine.

The impact of the conflict on the civilian population is devastating. The escalation of military activity in Rafah has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, making life even harder for families who have already been displaced multiple times. The WFP has warned that without a consistent fuel supply, essential services such as hospitals, sewage systems, and desalination plants will come to a halt, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.

The international community has been urged to take immediate action to address the crisis. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the WFP have called for urgent humanitarian intervention to save lives and prevent starvation. "Once a famine is declared, it is too late – many people will have already starved to death," warned Cindy McCain, WFP Executive Director. The need for proactive measures and resilience-building to help vulnerable communities cope with the ongoing shocks is more critical than ever.

Despite the dire situation, there have been some efforts to alleviate the crisis. The introduction of a self-registration tool by the WFP has enabled faster assistance by allowing people to update their location, ensuring that aid reaches those in need more efficiently. However, these efforts are not enough to address the scale of the crisis.

The situation in Gaza is a stark reminder of the devastating impact of conflict on civilian populations. The international community must prioritize safe and sustained access for humanitarian staff and the safeguarding of civilian lives. Without immediate and concerted efforts, the hunger crisis in southern Gaza will continue to worsen, with catastrophic consequences for its residents.

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