Enough food 'to feed entire population' sitting outside Gaza as malnutrition death toll reaches at least 20: WFP

Food insecurity is reaching "catastrophic levels," says the organization.

March 7, 2024, 4:19 PM

As malnutrition-related deaths continue to rise in Gaza, the World Food Programme (WFP) has enough food to feed "the entire population of Gaza" waiting outside the Gaza Strip said Samer AbdelJaber, WFP director of emergency.

At least 20 people have died from malnutrition and dehydration amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health.

"We need land crossings, we need access to get it into Gaza, whether in the southern parts of Gaza or the northern part of Gaza because the situation is catastrophic. So having access is really our number one priority," said AbdelJaber.

Palestinian children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages of food supplies, as the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas continues, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Mar. 5, 2024.
Mohammed Salem/Reuters

"It is already catastrophic in the sense that there are, according to WHO (World Health Organization) and other partners, children dying in the North," said AbdelJaber. A majority of the 2.2 million people in Gaza are food insecure, "We have high numbers of people that are considered in food insecurity levels that are emergency or catastrophic levels."

Ramesh Rajasingham, director of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said during a briefing last week that one-quarter of the population of Gaza -- 576,000 people -- were "one step away from famine" and one in six children under the age of 2 in northern Gaza is suffering from acute malnutrition.

The Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday that a 15-year-old girl died because of malnutrition and dehydration. Earlier this week, a 9-year-old boy named Yazan al-Kafarna died at Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, in the south of Gaza, hospital director Marwan al-Hamas told ABC News.

Yazan had cerebral palsy and needed a customized diet, which was not available due to the fighting in Gaza, al-Hamas said.

Palestinians walk along a street as humanitarian aid arrives in Gaza City, Mar. 6, 2024.
-/AFP via Getty Images

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) previously said Israel doesn't provide enough authorization to deliver sufficient aid and, even when it does give authorization, the fighting makes it difficult to deliver that aid.

After evidence showed some employees of UNRWA allegedly participated in Hamas' Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel, the Israeli government has been cutting UNRWA out of the process of distributing aid.

Israel has denied accusations that it isn't letting enough aid into Gaza, with officials saying the U.N., its partners and other aid agencies have created logistical challenges, resulting in a bottleneck. The U.N. disputes these claims.

Israel has also blamed Hamas for the lack of aid, claiming the group is holding aid for itself and not distributing it to Gazans. Hamas denies the allegations.

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