The hungry population has looted and shot aid trucks (Image source: Reuters)
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Shristy Kamal, Pune

One quarter of Gaza people are “one step away” from famine, says a senior United Nations (UN) official on Tuesday. The hunger has led to the looting and shooting of aid trucks. The World Food Programme warned that no humanitarian group has been able to provide aid since January 23. 

Ramesh Rajasingham, the coordinator director of the UN Office for the coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs emphasized on the challenges faced by the ongoing hostilities, expressing a need for the ceasefire to avoid potential spread into densely populated areas in the south of Gaza. He informed the security council that one in six children under the age of two in northern Gaza is currently experiencing acute malnutrition. He further highlighted the dependency of nearly all 2.3 million people in Gaza on insufficient food aid for their survival. 

According to Rajasingham, the UN and other aid groups encounter substantial barriers to deliver even basic necessities into Gaza. These obstacles include crossing closures, movement and communication restrictions, rigorous vetting procedures, unrest, damaged infrastructure, and the presence of unexploded ordnance.  

Israel’s Deputy UN Ambassador Jonathan Miller asserted Israel’s commitment to improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Miller stated that the quantity and speed of aid delivery are contingent on the capacity of the UN and other agencies. 

The assistant director-general of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, Maurizio Martina, explained the impact of the war on the flow of food supply chain. He explained that farmers, compelled by Israel have been forced to abandon their lands or have fled due to shelling that destroyed crops. Additionally, livestock and poultry are either perishing from hunger or succumbing to bombings, fishing is prohibited and groundwater is contaminated. He also expressed his concern that based on the current situation, agricultural production in the north is expected to collapse by May 2024, with signs of this collapse already evident. 

UN Humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths, stressed on the immediate need for action to prevent famine and widespread food insecurity in Gaza. He called for a ceasefire and urged the council to use their influence to facilitate aid access into and within Gaza, resume the entry of commercial goods, and protect and restore important infrastructure.