Gaza could surpass famine thresholds in six weeks, WFP official says

By Thomson Reuters Apr 24, 2024 | 5:42 AM

By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber

GENEVA (Reuters) – The Gaza Strip could surpass famine thresholds of food insecurity, malnutrition and mortality in six weeks, an official from the World Food Programme said on Wednesday.

“We are getting closer by the day to a famine situation,” said Gian Caro Cirri, Geneva director of the World Food Programme (WFP).

“There is reasonable evidence that all three famine thresholds — food insecurity, malnutrition and mortality — will be passed in the next six weeks.”

A U.N.-backed report published in March said that famine was imminent and likely to occur by May in northern Gaza and could spread across the enclave by July. On Tuesday, a U.S. official said the risk of famine in Gaza, especially in the north, was very high.

Cirri was speaking at the launch of a report by the Global Network Against Food Crises, an alliance of humanitarian and development actors including United Nations agencies, the World Bank, the European Union and the United States.

In its report, the network described the 2024 outlook for the Middle East and Africa as extremely concerning due to the Gaza war and restricted humanitarian access, as well as the risk of the conflict spreading elsewhere in the region.

“As for Gaza, the conflict makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to reach affected people,” Cirri said.

“We need to scale up massively our assistance… But under the current conditions, I’m afraid the situation will further deteriorate.”

The United Nations has long complained of obstacles to getting aid in and distributing it throughout Gaza in the six months since Israel began an aerial and ground offensive against Gaza’s ruling Islamist militant group Hamas.

Israel has denied hindering supplies of humanitarian aid and blames aid agencies for inefficiencies in distribution.

Israel’s military campaign has reduced much of the territory of 2.3 million people to a wasteland with a humanitarian disaster unfolding since Oct. 7, when Hamas ignited war by storming into southern Israel.

Cirri said that the only way to steer clear of famine in Gaza was to ensure immediate and daily deliveries of food supplies.

“They’ve been selling off their belongings to buy food. They are most of the time destitute,” he said.

“And clearly some of them are dying of hunger.”

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Sharon Singleton)