Nov 30, 2023 07:23 UTC
  •  UN food agency warns Gaza at risk of famine after weeks-long Israeli bombardment

The UN World Food Program (WFP) has warned of the possibility of a famine in the Israeli-bombarded Gaza Strip, stressing that supplies are woefully insufficient to address the hunger levels observed by WFP staff in the UN shelters and communities.

The UN food agency said in a recent statement it delivered desperately needed food to more than 120,000 people in the besieged Palestinian enclave during the initial pause.

"It is highly likely that the population of Gaza, especially women and children are at high risk of famine if WFP is not able to provide continued access to food," the statement read.

Meanwhile, Corinne Fleischer, the WFP’s director for the MENA and Eastern Europe Region said that "six days was simply not enough to provide all the assistance needed."

"Thanks to the pause, our teams have been in action on the ground, going into areas we haven't reached for a long time. What we see is catastrophic," she added.

Samer Abdeljaber, the WFP representative and country director in Palestine, said that the program's teams witnessed "hunger, despair, and destruction" among people who have not received any relief for weeks.

The uninterrupted and secure delivery of humanitarian aid must continue now without obstacles, he added.

Qatar announced an agreement late Monday to extend an initial four-day humanitarian pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas for an additional two days.

After weeks of very limited humanitarian aid deliveries through the Rafah border, WFP joined on Nov. 26 an inter-agency convoy that delivered 7.6 metric tons of food assistance to around 23,616 people in al-Ahli hospital and surrounding hard-to-reach areas.

Since Nov. 24, WFP has reached 121,161 people in UN shelters and host communities with food, including bread, food parcels, and e-vouchers.

During the pause in fighting, the convoy also conducted wider-reaching assessments to inform its response, expanded logistics capacities by setting up storage units and safely transported food items across Gaza.

WFP has reiterated that a six-day-long pause was not enough to make any meaningful impact. Operations on the ground need uninterrupted and regular supplies of adequate quantities of food and other essential commodities into Gaza, the food agency said.

Intense negotiations are underway to secure a second extension of a temporary ceasefire between Hamas and the Israeli regime. The current truce is due to expire in a matter of hours.

Both sides are reportedly keen on extending the pause which includes a prisoner swap and the entry of humanitarian aid into the besieged territory.