UN World Food Program director warns there is “full-blown famine” in northern Gaza
05/08/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

The director of the United Nations World Food Program has warned that northern Gaza is currently in the throes of a “full-blown famine” that is spreading to the southern part of the country as Israel’s blockade and relentless bombing campaign on the enclave continues.

This is according to Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain, who serves as the head of the World Food Program. Speaking to NBC News, she explained that famine is not unusual in a war scenario and that a ceasefire would provide humanitarian organizations with access to give the people of Gaza the help they so urgently need.

“What I can explain to you is – is that there is famine – full-blown famine – in the north, and it’s moving its way south. And so, what we’re asking for, and what we’ve continually asked for, is for a ceasefire and the ability to have unfettered access,” she said.

Although there has not been an official famine declaration, for McCain, there is no doubt that there is a “full-blown famine” there and described the disturbing things that the World Food Program has witnessed there on the ground.

“It’s horror. It’s – You know, it’s so hard to look at and it’s so hard to hear, also,” she said.

Other people with direct knowledge of the situation agree with her assessment. Last month, for example, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Samantha Power, said that northern Gaza was already hit by famine.

A spokesperson for the UN World Food Program told the Associated Press that northern Gaza already meets one of the three official benchmarks for an area to be declared in a formal famine. This is the condition of 20 percent of households experiencing an extreme lack of food.

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The area is close to meeting the second condition, which is at least 30 percent of children there suffering from wasting or acute malnutrition. The third condition, however, is more challenging because it requires two adults or four children for every 10,000 individuals to die each day of hunger and related complications; the death rate cannot be easily verified to make this determination.

Senior World Food Program Spokesman Steve Taravella said: “The bottom line is that people are practically dying from a lack of food, water and medicines. If we are waiting for the moment when all the facts are in hand to verify the final conditions to scientifically declare a famine, it would be after thousands of people have perished.”

Why is the U.S. still supporting this?

Despite these declarations, the U.S. continues to provide support to Israel as Palestinians in Gaza starve to death. Biden continues to ship weapons to Israel and refuses to work on a ceasefire if it does not involve a hostage release despite an American law that prohibits the U.S. from providing military assistance to countries that are blocking humanitarian assistance deliveries.

So far, nearly 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the attacks on Gaza that have been carried out by Israel since October 7. Countless more have gone missing under the rubble of demolished buildings, and it is not known how many will perish due to malnutrition as a result of the blockade and siege.

Although Israel claims that it is taking steps to help more aid flow into Gaza, aid officials insist that they are not doing enough to get people help. The country is coming under increasing pressure to allow more aid into Gaza after Israeli military strikes murdered seven staffers of the American-based World Central Kitchen charity that was delivering food to starving Palestinians.

Throughout the course of the war, nearly 2 million Palestinians have been forcibly displaced, and many are living in cramped conditions without access to food or proper sanitation. Dozens of children have already died due to dehydration and malnutrition.

Now, with Israel preparing to conduct military operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where much of the population is currently concentrated, concerns are growing that the situation is about to become even worse there.

Sources for this article include:



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