Mar 18, 2024 - World

Famine imminent in northern Gaza, report finds

Displaced Palestinians arrive at the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on March 18. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Some 300,000 people in northern Gaza are expected to face famine conditions as early as this month, a UN-backed body warned in a report released Monday.

The big picture: Negotiations toward a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas continue as the Gaza Strip faces a humanitarian crisis. The ongoing war has made it difficult to deliver aid into Gaza.

  • Half of Gaza's population, more than 1.1 million people, have completely exhausted their food supply, per the new report.
  • That marks the highest number of people ever recorded as facing catastrophic hunger by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), a group of governments, UN agencies, and aid groups that monitor global hunger.
  • "The speed at which this man-made hunger and malnutrition crisis has ripped through Gaza is terrifying," World Food Program Executive Director Cindy McCain said in a statement. McCain warned of a "small window" to prevent an outright famine.

Zoom in: Gaza's entire population — more than 2.2 million people — are now facing high levels of food insecurity.

  • The IPC previously warned in December that famine could occur by the end of May if hostilities did not end and if there wasn't access to essential supplies for the local population.
  • "Since then, the conditions necessary to prevent famine have not been met," the latest report found, making famine imminent in northern Gaza between mid-March and May.

What they're saying: Back in December, aid groups called the projection an "extreme warning" to the international community.

  • The latest report now "sheds light on the undeniable extent of starvation and deprivation for civilians" in the region, Mercy Corps CEO Tjada D'Oyen McKenna said in a statement.
  • "Sadly, this news comes as little surprise as Northern Gaza has been almost entirely cut off from life-sustaining aid and actively deprived of food, clean water, and healthcare," McKenna said, adding that "the ongoing denial of humanitarian access" is a violation of international humanitarian law.

Zoom out: The need for humanitarian assistance in Gaza remains critical, with some 1.7 million people having been displaced.

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