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Gaza: Starvation claiming a growing number of young lives, warns UN

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“The situation is appalling. Every minute, every hour, it is getting worse,” the UN agency for Palestinians, UNWRA, said in a tweet on X, formerly Twitter.

A maximum of 150 lorries have been reaching the north every day, where one in six children under the age of two is acutely malnourished and where media reports indicate that at least 20 youngsters have died from starvation in recent days, including a 14-day-old baby.

Later on Thursday, the UN Security Council was due to hold consultations on the situation behind closed doors at which Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag, was expected to brief. 

Well over 30,000 people have now been killed amid intense daily Israeli bombardment across Gaza, in response to Hamas-led terror attacks in Israel on 7 October that left some 1,200 dead and more than 250 taken hostage.

Negotiations initially in Qatar and this week in Cairo for a ceasefire linked to the release of the remaining approximately 100 hostages and far greater aid access throughout Gaza have so far not resulted in an end to the violence nor alleviated the humanitarian catastrophe.

Northern access hope

In the absence of a deal between Hamas and Israel, UN aid teams on Thursday planned to explore the feasibility of using an Israeli military access road to northern Gaza to transport a minimum of 300 aid trucks every day. 

The UN’s top aid official in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Jamie McGoldrick, announced the aid convoy initiative on Wednesday. He explained that it would enable trucks laden with humanitarian supplies to reach vulnerable people in the north of the enclave without having to negotiate obstructions and insecurity.

“We have to use this military road, this fenced road at the side, on the eastern side (of Gaza), to allow material to come from the crossing point at Kerem Shalom and Rafah, all the way up to the north and into the north, and to a crossing point there,” insisted Mr. McGoldrick, Humanitarian Coordinator Ad Interim for the OPT, in a video briefing to journalists. “We have to get up at least 300 trucks a day. Right now, we’re lucky if we are getting about 150.”

Ahead of the start of Ramadan on Sunday, the veteran humanitarian official noted that relief supplies entering Gaza in February had fallen by half compared with January, despite the “enormous and growing needs for over 2.3 million people living in appalling conditions”.

 

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