Gaza imminent threat of famine: OCHA - WHO - OHCHR
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Edited News | OCHA , WHO , OHCHR

Gaza imminent threat of famine: OCHA - WHO - OHCHR

GAZA: Flood of aid needed to avert imminent famine

 

Mass casualties are looming in parts of Gaza because of dire food shortages in the Strip that surpass famine thresholds - unless a ceasefire urgently allows for a substantial influx of food aid, UN humanitarians warned on Tuesday.

 

“All coping mechanisms have been exhausted. And, mind you, the coping mechanisms we have seen the past weeks, even months, are people eating birds’ seeds, animal fodder, wild grass and wheat. So, they have consumed that already, we are beyond that, there's literally nothing left,” said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) at a UN press briefing on Tuesday in Geneva.

 

The latest analysis from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report warns that the situation in Gaza is catastrophic, with famine a very likely scenario anytime between now and May 2024 .

 

“These are also not projections whereby they say this is probably going to happen by the end of May. They say it is most likely happening within a period that started two days ago, mid-March,”  Mr. Laerke specified. “So, famine…what they are saying, clearly, is that the famine threshold may already be the case in northern Gaza.”

 

“Looking ahead for a famine projection with 1.1 million at risk, and you look at the crude death rate, then you are looking at more than 200 people dying from starvation per day,” the OCHA spokesperson added. 

 

Intense Israeli bombardment and ground operations – as well as heavy fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups – continue to be reported across much of the Gaza Strip, particularly in Deir Al Balah and near Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City in the north.

 

“I and my colleagues have rarely seen anything develop into a situation like that we are briefing about today, this fast, this brutally,” Mr. Laerke said, reflecting on 20 years of humanitarian work by the UN and partners around the world. “One asks the question: where did humanity go?” 

 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), less than 1 percent (0.8%) of children under 5 years of age were acutely malnourished in Gaza prior to the last 5 months of conflict. However, the Interphase Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report, released earlier this week, shows that, as of February, that acute malnutrition is now affecting between12.4 and 16.5 percent of the population in the northern areas. 

 

“What the doctors and medical staff are telling us is more and more they're seeing the effects of starvation,” said WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harrison. 

 

“They're seeing newborn babies simply dying because they're too low birth weight, they're seeing the pregnant women who are coming in are also underweight and suffering, the complication that occur if you are trying to carry a pregnancy and you lack the nutrition,” she said. 

 

WHO and partners are currently supporting children with severe acute malnutrition and medical complications, who are at the highest risk of imminent death, through a nutrition stabilization center in Rafah, in southern Gaza. 

 

“None of the things we are seeing existed before these hostilities began and it's going to take a flood of aid to reverse it, but it can be reversed, as of now, if the hostilities stop,”  Dr. Harrison said. “And I would ask those who say that there's some sort of military objective that they think they need to achieve, I would ask them to look into the face of a child in Gaza and explain to her why their military objective is more important than her life,” she added, 

 

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that the extent of Israel’s continued restrictions on the entry of aid into Gaza, together with the way it continues to conduct hostilities, may amount to the use of starvation as a method of war, which is a war crime.

 

“We've watched malnourished children suffering. We know of amputations without anaesthesia. Children, as the High Commissioner said, are heading south, unaccompanied. Could you imagine the fear? Can you imagine the desperation? It's war crimes that have been committed -  and they must stop,” said spokesperson Jeremy Laurence. 

 

Mr. Laurence stressed that Israel, as the occupying power, has the obligation under international humanitarian law to ensure the provision of food and medical care to the population, commensurate with their needs, and to facilitate the work of humanitarian organisations to deliver that assistance.

 

-ends-

STORY: Gaza imminent threat of famine – OCHA, WHO, OHCHR  

TRT: 3:43”

SOURCE: UNTV CH 

RESTRICTIONS: NONE 

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS 

ASPECT RATIO: 16:9 

DATELINE: 19 March 2024 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND 

 

1.      Exterior medium shot: UN flag alley  

2.      Medium shot: speakers at the podium of the press conference 

3.      SOUNDBITE (English) – Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): “All coping mechanisms have been exhausted. And mind you, the coping mechanisms we have seen the past weeks, even months, are people eating birds’ seeds, animal fodder, wild grass and wheat. So, they have consumed that already, we are beyond that. There's literally nothing left.”

4.      Medium shot: speakers at the podium filmed from behind during the press conference 

5.      SOUNDBITE (English) – Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): “These are also not projections whereby they say this is probably going to happen by the end of May. They say it is most likely happening within a period that started two days ago, mid-March. So famine, what they are saying clearly is that famine threshold may already be the case in northern Gaza.”

6.      Medium shot: Journalists in press room   

7.      SOUNDBITE (English) – Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): “Looking ahead for a famine projection with 1.1 million at risk, and you look at the crude death rate, then you are looking at more than 200 people dying from starvation per day.”

8.      Close up, journalist listening

9.      SOUNDBITE (English) – Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): “I and my colleagues have rarely seen anything develop into a situation that we are briefing about today, this fast, this brutally, and where one asks the question, where did humanity go?”

10.   Wide shot: speakers at the podium filmed from behind during the press conference with journalists in the press room  

11.  SOUNDBITE (English) - Margaret Harrison, spokesperson for the World Health Organisation (WHO): “What the doctors and medical staff are telling us is more and more they're seeing the effects of starvation. So, they're seeing newborn babies simply dying because they're too low birth weight. They're seeing the pregnant women who are coming in are also underweight and suffering, the complication that occur if you are trying to carry a pregnancy and you lack the nutrition. “

12.   Wide shot: speakers at the podium filmed from behind during the press conference with journalists in the press room  

13.  SOUNDBITE (English) - Margaret Harrison, spokesperson for the World Health Organisation (WHO): “None of the things we are seeing existed before these hostilities began and it's going to take a flood of aid to reverse it, but it can be reversed as of now if the hostilities stop. And I would ask those who say that there's some sort of military objective that they think they need to achieve, I would ask them to look into the face of a child in Gaza and explain to her why their military objective is more important than her life.”

14.   Wide shot, journalists in press room with screen on the side  

15.   SOUNDBITE (English) - Jeremy Laurence, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “We've watched malnourished children suffering. We know of amputations without anaesthesia. Children, as the High Commissioner said, are heading south, unaccompanied. Could you imagine the fear? Can you imagine the desperation? It's war crimes that have been committed and they must stop.”

16.    Close up, journalist typing

17.   Medium shot, speakers at podium reflecting in window

18.   Wide shot: Journalists in press room   


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