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PS_2023_EMR_ACFoPt (19) © Action contre la Faim

Press release

Occupied Palestinian Territory

50% of the Gazan population is at risk of famine

Famine-like conditions occur when food security, nutrition and mortality conditions affect at least 20% of the population, with approximately 1 in 3 children acutely malnourished and 2 in 10,000 of the population dying of starvation.

More than half of the total population in Phase 5 is in the north of the Strip. Humanitarian access to northern Gaza is next to impossible, causing more than 160,000 people on the brink of starvation. But extreme food insecurity also affects Rafah, currently the most populated area of the Strip due to internal displacement. Humanitarian aid remains wholly insufficient to sustain the over 2 million people stuck in Rafah: 3 out of 10 Gazans in the south are at risk of starvation, and half of its population is expected to face Phase 5 Catastrophe conditions between March and July. The desperate civilian population has become dependent on animal-based food. We have received reports of people eating animal fodder, including hay, straw and other feed fit for cattle, goats and sheep.

This harrowing statement was activated today by the IPC, a food security framework that includes the UN, as well as governments and NGOs such as Action Against Hunger, whose operations in Gaza date back to 2005. The famine threshold for household food consumption has already been significantly surpassed. The report reveals a steeply increasing trend in acute malnutrition and it is highly probable that the famine threshold for acute malnutrition has also been exceeded. Available evidence points towards a steep rise in child deaths, leading to signal the imminent onset of famine.

Action Against Hunger’s Director of Operations, Vincent Stehli, warns from his recent visit to Rafah, Gaza: “We’ve been working in Gaza for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like it. 80% of the children have infectious diseases; 70% have diarrhoea. They don’t have enough food. Health services can’t function. It’s a perfect mix for malnutrition. This is just the beginning.” Early reports on malnutrition reveal yet another alarming reality: in the north of the Strip, 1 in 3 children are acutely malnourished and at least 27 have died from malnutrition and dehydration, according to data from the Global Nutrition Cluster and the Ministry of Health in Gaza.




For the past five months, Action Against Hunger has worked in extreme and highly insecure conditions for its humanitarian response such as distribution of fresh and dry food, hot meals, cleaning services, water trucking, solid waste management and distribution of hygiene kits and shelter. The organisation’s Director of Operations, from Rafah, recalls that “the cessation of hostilities and the re-establishment of humanitarian space to deliver humanitarian aid and restore services are essential to eliminate any risk of famine. That is why Action Against Hunger continues to advocate for an immediate and permanent ceasefire“.

When people suffer from extreme food shortages, death is slow. Pain is intense, with electrolyte imbalances, apathy, fatigue, physical and psychological deterioration, tissue degradation and damage to key organs. Starvation and hunger should never be used as a weapon of war.

Action Against Hunger therefore calls once again on all parties to the conflict to agree and take all necessary steps to achieve an immediate and sustained humanitarian ceasefire that ensures the protection of both civilians and civilian infrastructure, and allows for a massive scale-up in the delivery of life-saving humanitarian aid.

We also call on third states to actively promote and monitor the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2712, which calls for an urgent humanitarian pause in the fighting and the establishment of safe corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a period sufficient to allow rapid and unimpeded access for humanitarian actors in accordance with international humanitarian law. This must include prioritising access by land, especially at the Rafah, Kerem Shalom/Kerem Abu Salem, Erez/Beit Hanoun and Karni crossings.

We reiterate that, in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 2417, which forbids the use of starvation and hunger as a weapon of war, all the parties to the conflict must immediately cease attacks on civilians and infrastructure critical to survival, including food production and distribution facilities.




Action Against Hunger reiterates that armed conflict and violence are the main causes of hunger. Gaza is no different: the conflict is directly undermining the food security of the Gazan population. Ongoing hostilities have created major obstacles to food cultivation and production. Agricultural land has been hit by explosive weapons, with both short- and long-term negative consequences by destroying livelihoods and contaminating the soil with explosive remnants and unexploded ordnance.

The vast majority of fishing activities have stopped. Many food shops and markets have been destroyed. Only 15 bakeries remain operational out of the 97 that were active before 7 October. The destruction of these infrastructures prevents the population from buying and selling food safely. The market is close to non-existent. In addition, soaring prices have created serious economic obstacles for civilians who want access to food. According to the latest Insecurity Insight report, the availability of basic food staples is extremely limited. Meanwhile, 1.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs) lack cooking utensils, water and fuel, preventing the effective use of nutritious food when it is available and accessible.

The provision of humanitarian aid, including food aid, is a critical emergency measure. It simply saves lives. Restrictions on access to commercial goods and humanitarian aid through blockades, violence or administrative measures have made it inconceivable for civilians to meet the most basic needs.


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