WFP warns Gaza residents face 'imminent threat of death by starvation'

Ahram Online , Friday 17 Nov 2023

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) warned late Thursday that Gaza residents currently face an "imminent threat of death by starvation" as Israel continues to bombard the strip, causing severe energy and food shortages.

Palestine Gaza
Palestinian children wounded in Israeli bombardments wait with relatives in an ambulance outside Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah in the centre of the Gaza Strip, on November 17, 2023. AFP


Only 10 percent of essential food supplies have entered Gaza since the beginning of the conflict, the WFP stressed, adding that some of the strip's residents live on only one meal per day.

"Bread has become out of reach as bakeries shut down," the WFP warned in a post on X (formerly Twitter). "Out of 23 WFP-contracted bakeries... none are operating."

"Without water and fuel for generators, nearly all of Gaza's bakeries will shut down within days," it added.

This comes as dwindling bread supplies have forced the UN agency to shut down a local program providing fresh bread for 200,000 Palestinians displaced by Israel's war.

Abeer Etefa, the WFP’s senior regional communications officer for the Middle East and North Africa region, said on Thursday: “The collapse of food supply chains is a catastrophic turning point in an already very dire situation. Gaza was not an easy place to live in before 7 October, and if the situation was better before this conflict, it’s now disastrous.”

“The existing food systems in Gaza are collapsing,” Etefa said. “Food production has come to an almost complete halt."

“That’s forcing people to survive on maybe one meal a day if they are lucky to find even this meal,” said Etefa. “And for the lucky ones, this meal will include =canned food. Some people have actually resorted to consuming raw onions, uncooked eggplant, whatever they can get their hands on.”

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, warned Thursday of a deliberate attempt to paralyze its operations.

"I do believe there is a deliberate attempt to strangle our operation and paralyze the UNRWA operation," he told a press conference in Geneva.

The remarks come as Israeli forces dropped leaflets on Thursday, warning Palestinians to flee parts of southern Gaza, residents said, signaling a possible expansion of operations to areas where hundreds of thousands of people who heeded earlier evacuation orders are crowded into UN-run shelters and family homes.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Wednesday the ground operation will eventually “include both the north and south. We will strike Hamas wherever it is.”

The Gaza health ministry says Israel has so far killed more than 11,500 people, many of them women and children, as it pushes ahead with its brutal air and ground invasion of the Palestinian territory.

If Israeli troops move south, it is not clear where Gaza’s population can flee, as Egypt and Jordan have rejected Israel's policy of displacement and attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause at their expense.

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