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Famine to Loom Over Gaza, Children Under Age 5 to Suffer Most

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has issued a dire warning about the rapid deterioration of food security in the Gaza Strip which holds around 2.2. Million Palestinians who now face the risk of famine, according to the United Nations (UN) on Friday, Dec. 22. 

“There is a risk of famine, and it is increasing each day that the current situation of intense hostilities and restricted humanitarian access persists or worsens. The intensification of the hostilities, further reduction in access to food, basic services, and lifesaving assistance, and the extreme concentration or isolation of people in inadequate shelters or areas without basic services are major factors that contribute to increasing this risk,” the report stated.

The report added that “Between 8th December 2023 and 7th February 2024, the entire population in the Gaza Strip (about 2.2 million people) is classified in IPC Phase 3 or above (crisis or worse). This is the highest share of people facing high levels of acute food insecurity that the IPC initiative has ever classified for any given area or country. Among these, about 50 per cent of the population (1.17 million people) is in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and at least one in four households (more than half a million people) is facing catastrophic conditions (IPC Phase 5, catastrophe). This is typically characterized by households experiencing an extreme lack of food, leading to starvation, alarmingly high acute malnutrition rates among children under five, and significant excess mortality.”

“Even before the start of hostilities, more than a quarter of the population of Palestine was already estimated to be food insecure, including more than half of the population of the Gaza Strip.”

The FAO has announced that it is already braced to deliver fodder which contains 1500 tonnes of barley, water tanks, veterinary kits and fuel to Gaza, once they are granted access. This will aid in protecting livestock and even sustain livelihoods. 

All children under 5 in Gaza are currently vulnerable to severe malnutrition and preventable death as the risk of famine continues to rise. UNICEF has estimated that at least 10,000 children under the age of 5 will suffer the most in the coming months, from the most life-threatening form of malnutrition, known as severe wasting, and will need therapeutic foods.

“We are also particularly concerned about the nutrition of over 155,000 pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, as well as for over 135,000 children under two, given their specific nutrition needs, which are compounded by stress and trauma, “ UNICEF reported.

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