Gaza population lacks food and faces malnutrition: UN food programme official

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BRUSSELS – All of Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants lack sufficient food and face malnutrition a month into Israel’s devastating siege of the Palestinian enclave, a World Food Programme (WFP) official said on Thursday.

Humanitarian aid has only trickled into Gaza since Israel began bombarding the densely populated enclave in response to Hamas’ raid on southern Israel that killed some 1,400 people on Oct 7. UN officials say the supplies coming into Gaza are nowhere near enough to meet the population’s needs.

“Before Oct 7, 33 per cent of the population were food insecure,” said Ms Kyung-nan Park, director of emergencies for the United Nations WFP. “We can safely say that 100 per cent are food insecure at this moment.”

She said WFP needed US$112 million (S$152 million) to be able to reach 1.1 million people in Gaza in the next 90 days. “They are facing the risk of malnutrition,” she said.

In addition to funding, WFP also needs regular entry into Gaza and safe access once inside to be able to reach the people in need, she added.

Since the reopening of the Rafah crossing on the Gaza border with Egypt for humanitarian cargo on Oct 21, the daily average number of trucks that have crossed into Gaza has been less than 19 per cent of what it had been before the conflict, according to the UN humanitarian office.

“Right now, we’re entering 40 to 50 trucks,” Ms Park said of WFP. “For just WFP food assistance, we would need 100 trucks a day to be able to provide any meaningful humanitarian food to the people in Gaza.”

She said the WFP staff in Gaza themselves did not have enough to eat. WFP used to work with more than 23 bakeries in the densely populated enclave, but only one is still functioning due to the lack of fuel and supplies, she said.

“There are stories of people going there, being in line for 10 days and leaving empty-handed,” she said. “It’s quite serious.” REUTERS

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