Updated January 16th, 2024 at 00:03 IST

United Nations warn of widespread famine and diseases in Gaza amid Israel's military ops

The United Nations agencies have warned that disruption of aid supply amid Israel's military offensive in Gaza can cause widespread famine and diseases.

Reported by: Harsh Vardhan
Gaza civilians lined up for relief supplies. | Image:AP
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As the Israel-Hamas war crossed 100 days mark, the United Nations (UN) has warned Israel's military offensive in the land can soon result in widespread famine and diseases. Three UN agencies - the World Food Program, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) - issued the warning on January 15 as the death toll in Gaza, which is one of the world's most densely populated countries, has crossed 24,100. According to the Gaza health ministry led by Hamas, two-thirds of the people killed are women and children. 

With just 40 kilometers in width and 11 kilometers wide, Gaza is home to around 2.3 million people. Ever since the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began its ground offensive from northern Gaza, many civilians have been forced to flee and hundreds have been killed for being in the line of fire.

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The war began on October 7 when Hamas invaded southern Israel and massacred over a 1000 Israeli civilians including the elderly and newborns, prompting an unprecedented response from Israel.

With the death toll rising, the UN agencies have underscored the need for quicker dispatching of aid and in larger amounts. The agency chiefs have reportedly said that opening of too few border crossings, a slow vetting process for trucks and goods going into Gaza, and continuing fighting throughout the territory is disrupting the aid supply. The aid is being supplied into Gaza strip through the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. 

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🆘 Preventing #famine and deadly disease outbreaks in #Gaza will require faster, safer humanitarian access and more supply routes. 

We join @UNICEF and @WHO to call for an urgent step change in the flow of humanitarian aid and safety guarantees.

🗞️https://t.co/zRvys7TUqC pic.twitter.com/rcj8oHjlcO

— World Food Programme (@WFP)

“People in Gaza risk dying of hunger just miles from trucks filled with food,” WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain said. “Every hour lost puts countless lives at risk."

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In an official statement, the WFP said that “the shortage of food, clean water, and medical assistance is particularly severe in the northern areas.”

Citing the Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Phase Classification (IPC), the WFP said that the entire population of Gaza "is in crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity." It also says that 3,35,000 children under 5 years of age are the most vulnerable. 

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Notably, the UN warnings come a day after the U.S advised Israel to scale back its military offensive. The agencies, on the other hand, demand that more trucks and aid workers as well as the civilians must be allowed to move freely in Gaza as Israel now controls the strip after a total siege of the land. 

6 facts about the Israel-Hamas war in 90 seconds: pic.twitter.com/qcuo9t44CH

— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF)

Meanwhile, Israel has blamed the UN for disruption of aid delivery in Gaza. Moshe Tetro, an official with COGAT, an Israeli military body in charge of civilian Palestinian affairs, said last week that aid delivery would be more streamlined if the UN provided more workers to receive and pack the supplies. 

On January 14, Israel shared data about the relief work saying that 237 humanitarian aid trucks were allowed into the Gaza strip in a single day. The COGAT said that 83% of the trucks carried food while the rest carried water, medical supplied and shelter equipment. 

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The Israeli government is also running an awareness campaign about the relief work saying that Hamas is stealing the aid to plan attacks against Israel. 

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Published January 16th, 2024 at 00:02 IST