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Israel-Hamas war: “In Gaza, famine could start at any time”

The risk of famine in Gaza is “imminent” according to one new assessment published Monday March 18 by the Integrated Food Security Classification Framework (IPC), a partnership between international agencies (World Food Program, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – FAO –, Unicef, World Bank, etc.) and non-governmental organizations (Action Against Hunger, Care, Oxfam, etc.), responsible for assessing the most acute food crises. According to Beth Bechdol, Deputy Director General of the FAO, the humanitarian crisis observed in Gaza is unprecedented in its scale and speed.

How is the situation in Gaza monitored and evaluated?

Given the security situation in Gaza, the analysis had to be carried out remotely. It was conducted from February 26 to 1er March, by forty experts from eighteen agencies, based on telephone interviews and public data from different sources. Three criteria are required for a famine to be declared: that more than 20% of households are faced with an extreme lack of food, that a third of children are malnourished, and that mortality due to hunger reaches two deaths per 10 000 inhabitants per day or four children per 10,000 inhabitants per day.

According to our assessment, two of the criteria are met, or even significantly exceeded, in Gaza – that of extreme lack of food and that of acute malnutrition among children – but the third, that of mortality, still needs to be monitored. There is a significant increase in infant mortality, which makes us fear that famine could start in Gaza at any time.

The report highlights that the area most at risk is the northern Gaza Strip…

Yes, but the report shows that the entire population of Gaza is now in a food crisis. In December 2023, we assessed the risk of famine as ” likely “. It is now imminent. The situation has deteriorated very quickly and massively with half of the population of the Gaza Strip, or 1.1 million people, facing the highest level of the IPC scale, level 5, which is catastrophic.

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According to the data collected, in all households in Gaza, meals are skipped daily and adults restrict themselves so that children can eat. But the most acute situations are indeed in the North. A third of children under 2 years old are severely malnourished. Two thirds of households in the northern governorates have spent at least ten entire days and nights without eating over the last thirty days. In the south of the Gaza Strip, a third of households were subjected to such deprivation.

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