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Gaza: Worst famine fears realised as 10th child reportedly ‘starves to death’

“The official records yesterday or this morning said there was a tenth child officially registered in a hospital as having starved to death,” said UN health agency spokesperson Christian Lindmeier. “A very sad threshold…(but) the unofficial numbers can unfortunately be expected to be higher.”

The development followed media reports overnight that four children had died in northern Gaza’s Kamal Adwan hospital, in addition to six other youngsters who died on Wednesday at the same facility and at Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City.

Hunger ‘catastrophe’

The deepening food insecurity crisis in the enclave – which UN aid coordination office OCHA said had left one in four facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity – prompted renewed international alarm on Thursday, when more than 100 Palestinians were apparently killed and hundreds were injured trying to get aid from a relief convoy stopped at a roundabout southwest of the city.

Swift condemnation of the incident by UN Secretary-General António Guterres – who also called for an independent investigation – was echoed by other top UN officials including UN relief chief Martin Griffiths, amid reports of continuing intense Israeli bombardment from air, land and sea across much of the Gaza Strip. 

“We saw pictures from Al Shifa (hospital) where victims of the killings were lying next to each other next to each other waiting for any treatment,” the UN World Health Organization (WHO)’s Mr. Lindmeier told journalists in Geneva. 

Water and power cut

“The system in Gaza – we’ve said it many times that it’s on its knees – it’s more than on its knees,” the WHO official continued, as he explained that all of Gaza’s “lifelines have more or less been cut” – notably water and electricity – since immediately after Hamas-led terror attacks on Israeli communities on 7 October. 

According to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, the quantity of aid supplies reaching Gaza in February was just half of January’s total – “and we know that January was not enough at all”, the World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson insisted.

Vital signs

Reiterating repeated UN calls for a ceasefire, Mr. Lindmeier maintained that Thursday’s tragic aid convoy deaths had highlighted how desperate Gazans were for food, fresh water and other essentials, after nearly five months of war. 

“This is the real drama, this is the real catastrophe here, that food and supplies are so scarce that we see these situations coming up. And the food supplies have been cut off deliberately,” he maintained, noting that Gazans were no longer able to provide for themselves.

“The fields which were existing, the greenhouses the little bit of agriculture, all that all needs water supply, or water supply depending on electricity and pumping stations,” he explained. “This is the real drama; this just underlines more and more that we need an urgent ceasefire now. If not now, then when?”

 

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