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‘Children are dying from hunger’, says UN aid coordinator — Global Issues

“Children are dying from hunger,” he said via videolink, as media reports indicate that at least 20 children have succumbed to starvation in the besieged and bombarded enclave, including most recently a 14-day-old baby.

Calling for a plan to address this crisis, he said immediate needs would include using a military access road to northern Gaza for a minimum of 300 aid trucks every day.

Hunger in the enclave has grown exponentially since the Israeli invasion began in October, triggered by Hamas-led attacks on Israel that left 1,200 dead and 240 taken hostage.

Lack of water amid gender-based violence

During visits to the Misq and Layan camp in Al Mawasi in southern Gaza, Mr. McGoldrick said displaced women conveyed the impact of the war and of the huge scale of need, which include privacy, security, hygiene and the inability to prepare for Ramadan.

The women said daily life in a community-driven camp entails facing sexual harassment on the way to unsegregated toilets, a lack of clean water and gender-based violence, he said.

One woman said she had given birth and then was forced to move to the camp two days later with her other children, one of whom is living with disabilities, he said, adding that the women admitted she was unable to breastfeed her newborn due to the lack of food.

At night, walking through the camps, “you can hear the women crying”, he said.

One in six children under age two in northern Gaza is acutely malnourished.

© UNRWA

One in six children under age two in northern Gaza is acutely malnourished.

Famine looms alongside feared Rafah invasion

Some of the people he met said they had been displaced multiple times, and that if Israel’s expected ground invasion of Rafah occurs, there is no system in place to safely evacuate those already seeking shelter in the south.

“People want to get back to a normal life,” he said. “Hopefully, we get some sort of pause which will allow us to stabilize people’s health and food security. It’s something we’re hoping for in the coming weeks.”

Given the conditions facing people in northern Gaza, with a lack of healthcare, food and other basic essentials, the Humanitarian Coordinator said there will be “a lot preventable deaths” linked to current squalid living conditions.

A more detailed report on famine is expected in the coming weeks, but Mr. McGoldrick said the findings will likely confirm what is already known: hunger is spiralling.

Land deliveries more effective than airdrops

While airdrops and naval aid deliveries are helpful, road transport remains the most effective way to get the volume of urgently required aid to those who need it, he said.

Right now, airdrops contain supplements for children and ready-to-eat pre-cooked meals, while trucks deliver flour and food parcels from UNRWA and WFP.

One truck could deliver between 20 and 30 metric tonnes, about 10 times the amount of one aircraft conducting an aid drop.

Egypt is the main land entry point for aid, via the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza, he said. Right now, Sigrid Kaag, the UN Security Council-mandated Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza, is working with Egyptian officials to improve the effectiveness of aid deliveries, he said.

The UN Spokesperson said Ms. Kaag will be briefing the Council on Thursday.

UNRWA teams continue to distribute flour in southern Gaza, but the aid trickling in is not enough to meet current needs.

© UNRWA

UNRWA teams continue to distribute flour in southern Gaza, but the aid trickling in is not enough to meet current needs.

Predictable supplies urgently needed

“What’s needed now is a predictable supply of essentials into Gaza”, he said, which includes more open routes, security for humanitarian workers and access to those in need, facilitated by the military controlling affected areas.

Working with Israeli authorities, the UN’s efforts continue to try to get much-needed items, like insulin for children who need it, into the enclave. Efforts also include advocating for safely using an access road into the north, he said, noting that a recognizance mission on Thursday will determine the route’s safety.

He said that Israel saw last week how difficult it is to get aid delivered, referring to the deaths of more than 100 desperately seeking aid in northern Gaza.

Those outside the humanitarian field think it’s a matter of sending trucks, “but you don’t realize how desperate people are”, he said.


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