At least 576,000 people in Gaza one step away from famine, UN says

News | Israel War on Gaza At least 576,000 people in Gaza one step away from famine, UN says Warning comes as Israeli forces again opened fire on Palestinians waiting for food aid in northern Gaza.

Displaced Palestinian children wait to receive food at a tent camp in Rafah in southern Gaza , 27 February 2024

Al Jazeera reports on 28 February 2024:

Officials from the United Nations have accused Israel of “systematically” blocking aid from reaching desperate Palestinians in Gaza, warning that at least one-quarter of the enclave’s population was a step away from famine without urgent action.

The warnings on Tuesday came as footage from northern Gaza showed Israeli forces again opening fire on Palestinians gathering to collect food in the area.  It was not immediately clear if the shooting led to deaths or injuries.

Israel’s war on Gaza, now in its fifth month, has killed at least 29,878 Palestinians, most of them women and children. The assault began after Hamas – the armed group that governs Gaza – launched attacks inside Israel on October 7, killing some 1,139 people and taking 253 others captive.

Israel’s subsequent military campaign – which has included daily air attacks, a ground offensive into north and central Gaza and the closing of all but one crossing point into the territory – has laid much of the Palestinian enclave to waste and triggered a worsening humanitarian crisis.

“Here we are, at the end of February, with at least 576,000 people in Gaza – one-quarter of the population – one step away from famine,” Ramesh Rajasingham, the deputy chief of the UN humanitarian agency (OCHA), told the UN Security Council (UNSC).

One in six children under the age of two in northern Gaza suffers from acute malnutrition and wasting and practically all the 2.3 million people in the Palestinian enclave rely on “woefully inadequate” food aid to survive, he told the meeting on food security in Gaza.

“If nothing is done, we fear widespread famine in Gaza is almost inevitable and the conflict will have many more victims,” he said.

Rajasingham added that the UN and aid groups face “overwhelming obstacles just to get a bare minimum of supplies into Gaza”. These include crossing closures, restrictions on movement and communication, onerous vetting procedures, unrest, damaged roads and unexploded ordnance, he said.

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