UN experts say famine has spread in Gaza, condemn Israel”s ‘starvation campaign”

GENEVA — The recent deaths of several more children from malnutrition in the Gaza Strip indicate that famine has spread throughout the enclave, a group of independent human rights experts mandated by the United Nations said on Tuesday.

Gaza health authorities say at least 33 children have died of malnutrition, mostly in northern areas which had until recently faced the brunt of the Israeli military campaign launched after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel.

Since early May, the war has spread to southern Gaza, hitting aid flows into the enclave amid restrictions by Israel, which has accused UN agencies of failing to distribute supplies efficiently.

In Tuesday’s statement, the group of 11 rights experts cited the deaths of three children aged 13, 9, and six months from malnutrition in the southern area of Khan Younis and the central area of Deir Al-Balah since the end of May.

“With the death of these children from starvation despite medical treatment in central Gaza, there is no doubt that famine has spread from northern Gaza into central and southern Gaza,” the experts said.

Their statement, signed by experts including the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri, condemned “Israel’s intentional and targeted starvation campaign against the Palestinian people.”

Israel’s diplomatic mission in Geneva said the statement amounted to “misinformation.”

“Israel has continuously scaled up its coordination and assistance in the delivery of humanitarian aid across the Gaza Strip, recently connecting its power line to the Gaza water desalination plant,” it added.

In a Khan Younis hospital on Monday, Palestinian woman Ghaneyma Joma told Reuters she feared her son would die of starvation.

“It’s distressing to see my child … lying there dying from malnutrition because I cannot provide him with anything due to the war, the closing of crossings and the contaminated water,” she said, seated on the floor next to her motionless son, who had an intravenous drip attached to his wrist.

Formally, whether or not a famine exists is determined by a UN-backed global monitor called the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), which makes an assessment based on a set of technical criteria.

Last month the IPC said Gaza remained at high risk of famine as the war continues and aid access is restricted.

More than 495,000 people across Gaza—more than one fifth of the population—are facing the most severe, or “catastrophic,” level of food insecurity, it said, down from a forecast of 1.1 million in the previous update. — Reuters

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