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UN accuses Israel of denying Gaza aid access as famine takes hold

UN accuses Israel of denying Gaza aid access as famine takes hold
epa08212361 Food rations provided by the World Food Programme (WFP) sit at an aid distribution center in Sana'a, Yemen, 11 February 2020 (Issued 12 February 2020). According to reports, international donors have warned that humanitarian assistance could be scaled-down to the Houthi-held northern areas of Yemen, accusing the Houthis of diverting food assistance from the hungriest people of war-ridden Yemen. Over 24 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian aid due to a five-year armed conflict between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Houthis. EPA-EFE/YAHYA ARHAB

NEW YORK, May 5 (Reuters) - A top U.N. official on Sunday accused Israel of continuing to deny the United Nations humanitarian access in the Gaza Strip, where the U.N. food chief warned a "full-blown famine" has taken hold in the north of the enclave of 2.3 million people.

By Michelle Nichols

While not a formal famine declaration, World Food Programme Executive Director Cindy McCain said – in an NBC News interview broadcast on Sunday – that based on the “horror” on the ground: “There is famine, full-blown famine, in the north, and it’s moving its way south.”

Israel’s government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on McCain’s remarks.

The head of the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, on Sunday accused Israel of continuing to deny the United Nations aid access in Gaza as it tries to avert famine.

“Only in the past 2 weeks, we have recorded 10 incidents involving shooting at convoys, arrests of UN staff including bullying, stripping them naked, threats with arms & long delays at checkpoints forcing convoys to move during the dark or abort,” Lazzarini posted on X.

Israel’s government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Lazzarini’s remarks.

Lazzarini also called on “Hamas and other armed groups to stop any attacks on humanitarian crossings, refrain from aid diversion and make sure assistance reaches all those in need.” The militants claimed responsibility on Sunday for an attack that shut down the main humanitarian aid crossing into Gaza.

 

‘ALREADY DYING’

A U.N.-backed report in March said famine was imminent and likely by May in northern Gaza, and could spread across the enclave by July. Famine is assessed as at least 20% of the population suffering extreme food shortages, with one in three children acutely malnourished and two people out of every 10,000 dying daily from starvation or from malnutrition and disease.

U.N. officials say that generally by the time a famine is formally declared somewhere it is too late to save many people. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last week that the most vulnerable in northern Gaza “are already dying of hunger and disease.”

The U.N. has complained about a lack of humanitarian aid access throughout the seven-month-long war between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas in Gaza. Guterres has said the U.N. is trying to avert “an entirely preventable, human-made famine” in northern Gaza.

Israel is retaliating against Hamas over an Oct. 7 attack in which Israel says the militants killed about 1,200 people and took more than 250 people hostage. Gaza health authorities say Israel has killed more than 34,600 people in Gaza since then.

Hamas came to power in Gaza in 2006 after Israeli soldiers and settlers withdrew in 2005, but the enclave is still deemed as Israeli-occupied territory by the United Nations.

As the occupying power, the U.N. human rights chief has said Israel is obligated to ensure the provision of food and medical care to the population and to facilitate the work of humanitarian organizations trying to deliver aid.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, Additional reporting by Maytaal Angel and Hatem Maher; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Agf Agf says:

    In the meantime Hamas conducts a rocket attack on one of the entry points through which aid comes into Gaza, killing three Israeli soldiers. So while insisting that Israel must allow more aid in, they actually take steps to strangle that very aid. Is it not clear to all those Hamas supporters out there that they WANT as much suffering as possible? Wake up people.

    • Rod H MacLeod says:

      This attack has no media appeal. A groundswell of anti-Israel sentiment is being pushed heavily by certain media outlets, including Rupert Murdoch’s empire. And Murdoch does nothing unless he can see personal gain in it.
      Just look at the headline – it shouts “UN accuses Israel of denying Gaza aid access as famine takes hold” yet it is NOT a UN statement. It is a statement made by World Food Programme Executive Director Cindy McCain in a press interview. It’s her opinion, not that of the UN. Yet Reuters headlines it as such, and DM without apology pushes an identical headline.
      Impartial reporting my butt.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    Hamas is the military arm of the UN, whike the UN and all its agencies take care of the propoganda.
    In the first place the imminent starvation they have been warning about is a long time coming and secondly Hamas is rocketing the waiting trucks Israel is trying to send in.

  • Mark Wade says:

    This must be the first time in the history of wars, where the victim of a savage, brutal and barbaric attack is expected to give humanitarian aid to their aggressor …

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