The World Health Organization has warned that Gaza's besieged residents are on the verge of starvation. They urge countries to resume their support for UNRWA.
The short version
- The World Health Organization warns that Gazans are suffering from famine. The reason is that 14 countries stopped their support for the United Nations relief organization UNRWA.
The summary is created with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and quality guaranteed by Aftenposten journalists.
The United Nations had previously said that one in every four residents of the Gaza Strip suffers from hunger. The World Health Organization has also warned that there is a high risk of famine breaking out at any moment. This means that hunger is so bad that many residents will get sick and die.
– This is a population on the verge of starvation. This population is being pushed to the extreme, and they are not parties to this war. They, as well as their health facilities, should be protected, Mike Ryan, head of disaster response at the World Health Organization, said at a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday.
This warning comes after 14 countries announced the suspension of their support for the United Nations Relief Organization for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
Last week, the United Nations International Court of Justice opened a genocide case against Israel. They also ordered the country to allow emergency aid into the Gaza Strip and to make more efforts to prevent genocide against Palestinians.
Researcher in the Middle East: – The shock is that Western countries are stopping support for UNRWA now
– Miserable living conditions
The United Nations now estimates that about 75 percent of the Gaza Strip's population of more than 2.2 million people have been forced to flee, more than half of them to Rafah in the south. They have almost no access to clean water.
– Emergency aid coordinator Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that their living conditions are miserable and getting worse day by day.
He continued that heavy rains flooded the temporary camps and forced children, parents and the elderly to sleep in the mud.
Unlike in other conflict areas, residents of the Gaza Strip did not have the opportunity to flee to safer areas.
The borders are closed and residents are stuck in an area the size of the Askar municipality.
More than 26,751 people have been killed in Israeli attacks since October, according to Palestinian health authorities. It is reported that most of them are women and children.
Israel constantly attacks the Gaza Strip with bombs and artillery.
Explosives hit homes, hospitals and schools. Tens of thousands were killed, missing or maimed.
– Disastrous consequences
So far, there is no indication that Israel will allow more food and other emergency aid into the war-torn Palestinian region.
Israel still often refuses to import much-needed goods into Gaza, for unclear, inconsistent and often unspecified reasons, Griffiths says.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that cutting UNRWA funding would have catastrophic consequences for the people of Gaza.
The Palestinians lack almost everything after more than three months of Israeli attacks and very little humanitarian aid.
– No other organization has the capacity to provide such large-scale and urgently needed assistance to the 2.2 million people in Gaza. Tedros said of UNRWA: “We ask that these decisions be reconsidered.”
The World Health Organization had previously indicated that it only took 100 days of war before the situation in the Gaza Strip approached famine.
In Syria, it took five to six years for some besieged areas to reach a similar situation.
Health workers aboard a French aircraft carrier off the coast of Gaza recently told SVT that all the Palestinian children they are treating are showing signs of severe malnutrition.
Aftenposten I mentioned previously How thousands of children lost their arms or legs due to Israeli attacks. A large number of children have also become orphans.
Eddie asks thinking
Earlier on Wednesday, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Ede also asked countries to consider the broader consequences of reducing support for Palestinians in Gaza.
Among the countries that suspended support are the United States of America, Germany, France, Great Britain, Sweden and Finland, in addition to many other Western countries and Japan.
To date, UNRWA has lost NOK 4.6 billion in support because of this.
The background is that Israel has accused at least a dozen UNRWA employees of participating in the Hamas attack on October 7.
The organization has 13,000 staff in Gaza, and most of the 12 staff had already been dismissed when the countries announced the suspension of support.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that UNRWA is the backbone of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Yesterday, I met with donors to listen to their concerns and explain the measures we are taking to address them. He said during a meeting with the UN Committee on the Rights of Palestinians on Wednesday that UNRWA is the backbone of all humanitarian aid in Gaza.
SV Roodt suggested that Norway impose sanctions on Israel. A large majority in Parliament said no to this earlier in January.
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