Tel Aviv: The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned against an increasing risk of famine in the Gaza Strip “amid intense conflict and restricted access”.
In its latest situation update, the UN agency said that the Famine Review Committee (FRC) was activated due to evidence surpassing the acute food insecurity Phase 5 (Catastrophic threshold)” in the Hamas-controlled enclave.
“The committee added that, to eliminate the famine risk, it is imperative to halt the deterioration of health, nutrition, food security, and mortality situation through the restoration of health, water, sanitation, and hygiene services,” the OCHA said in its update,.
It further said that the FRC “has called for the cessation of hostilities and the restoration of humanitarian space for delivering multisectoral assistance, noting these were vital first steps to eliminate any risk of famine”.
In its update, the OCHA also said that the spread of diseases in Gaza has reportedly intensified, particularly due to the recent mass displacements across the southern part of the war-torn enclave.
Close to 180,000 people are suffering from upper respiratory infections; there are 136,400 cases of diarrhoea (half of these among children under the age of five); 55,400 cases of lice and scabies; 5,330 cases of chickenpox; 42,700 cases of skin rash (including 4,722 cases of impetigo); 4,683 cases of Acute Jaundice Syndrome; and 126 cases of meningitis.
Since the Israel-Hamas war erupted on October 7, 2023, at least 22,185 Palestinians have been killed, with 57,035 injured persons and up to 7,000 others reportedly missing.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza estimates that about 70 per cent of the total fatalities are women and children.
By the end of 2023, 1.9 million people, or nearly 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza, were estimated to be internally displaced, according to the UN Refugee Agency.