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UN food agency pauses deliveries to the north of Gaza

In Europe
February 20, 2024

ROME (Reuters) – The World Food Programme said on Tuesday it was pausing deliveries of food aid to northern Gaza until conditions in the Palestinian enclave allow for safe distribution.

“The decision to pause deliveries to the north of the Gaza Strip has not been taken lightly, as we know it means the situation there will deteriorate further and more people risk dying of hunger,” the Rome-based WFP, the United Nations’ food agency, said in a statement.

Three U.N. agencies – the WFP, the World Health Organization and children’s agency UNICEF – said on Monday food and safe water were “incredibly scarce and diseases are rife…resulting in a surge of acute malnutrition” in Gaza more than four months into the Israel-Hamas war.

The food crisis is particularly serious in the north, where in January one in six children under the age of two were reported as acutely malnourished, and where “the situation is likely to be even graver today”, the agencies said.

The WFP said it had resumed food deliveries to the north on Sunday after they were suspended for three weeks because of an attack on a U.N. Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) truck and “the absence of a functioning humanitarian notification system.”

A convoy of trucks started making its way towards Gaza City, but struggled to make progress as hungry crowds tried to attack the trucks, which then faced gunfire as they entered the city, the agency said.

The next day, WFP trucks were looted between Khan Younis in the south and Deir al Balah in central Gaza, and a driver was beaten, it said.

The Israeli military began its offensive to eradicate Hamas in Gaza after the Oct. 7 Hamas raid on southern Israel in which Israel said 1,200 people were killed and 253 taken hostage by the Islamist militant group. More than 29,000 people have since been killed in Gaza, health authorities in the Hamas-governed enclave say.

(Reporting by Alvise Armellini, Editing by Giulia Segreti and Timothy Heritage)

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