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Starvation Looms in Gaza: Highest Levels of Food Insecurity Ever Recorded, Says UN Relief Chief

The Gaza Strip is on the brink of a devastating famine as a result of the highest levels of food insecurity ever recorded, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The prolonged Israeli military blockade along with the deteriorating economic conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic has pushed a large majority of the population of the Palestinian enclave – already among the poorest in the world – into extreme deprivation. Food insecurity, defined by UNRWA as “the lack of access to enough safe, nutritious, and culturally acceptable food for an active, healthy life,” in the Gaza Strip has reached 88%, the highest ever recorded. “The situation in Gaza is one of the most alarming emergencies we are facing today, and we fear a turret and famine for thousands of people,” the head of UNRWA, Pierre Krahenbuhl, said in a statement. “The UN is doing all it can to avert a humanitarian disaster, but we need partners to help us ensure vital aid is delivered to those most in need.” The UN and several international charities have been gradually increasing their presence in Gaza in an effort to mitigate the humanitarian crisis but much more needs to be done to prevent a famine. Gaza is currently facing a dire shortage of basic goods such as food, medicine, fuel, and electricity. This has led to rising food prices and a shortage of clean water and further weakened medical services and health care systems. The dire conditions and poverty in Gaza have left the population of two million struggling to access basic necessities and services. This year, the region has seen a significant increase in unemployment and poverty, with an estimated 70% of the population living under the poverty line. In order to prevent a potential famine and avert humanitarian disaster, it is paramount that the international community takes immediate and concerted action to address the underlying political, economic, and social factors that are causing people in Gaza to endure such suffering and deprivation. It is time for a comprehensive and durable solution that ensures immediate and tangible improvements in the quality of life for the people of Gaza and creates a viable pathway towards peace in the region.