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IMG-20240204-WA0009 © Action contre la Faim

Press release

Occupied Palestinian Territory

More than half a million children and women in urgent need of nutritional care

At the moment, more than half a million children and mothers are in need of nutritional assistance and half of the Strip’s population – more than one million people – are suffering from or on the verge of starvation.

In the clinics we see malnourished children, especially those under two years of age. We are seeing how the lack of food affects their development: they do not grow within the average size they should have for their age and, internally, vital organs such as the heart, kidneys or lungs are weakened; they are immunosuppressed and suffer more strongly from infections. In addition, they are children who have not received any vaccinations in the last 7 months and who live in very precarious conditions. They have no access to decent sanitary infrastructures. We receive them sick, especially with cough and possible pneumonia, and when we treat them in the clinics, we identify that they are suffering from malnutrition,” explains the nutrition and health coordinator of the Action Against Hunger emergency team, who has just returned from Gaza.

To reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality among newborns and support mothers, Action Against Hunger has launched a nutrition program in which it distributes lipid-based nutritional supplements aimed at reducing the incidence of acute malnutrition in children older than 6 months with the intention of supporting more than 13,000 vulnerable people.

Prior to October 7, only 0.8% of Gaza’s under-five children were acutely malnourished, but the blockade of the Strip since then has led to catastrophic food insecurity.

Before October 7, we did not have nutrition and health programs, because it was not necessary, but given the current circumstances, we saw that we had to do everything we could as soon as possible. In the clinics we work with, we do an anthropometric screening by measuring their upper arm circumference to determine if they are at risk of malnutrition. We distribute an extra 270-calorie supplement, about 50 grams, which they take daily for 15 days. After two weeks, they again receive the ration for the next 15 days. We also give the mothers training on breastfeeding or care before they return to their tents or shelters,” explains the nutrition and health coordinator of our emergency team.

The risk of famine, ever closer for half of Gaza’s population, could be averted if we were to halt the deteriorating food security, health and nutrition situation with the entry of humanitarian aid through all land crossings and the implementation of basic services. However, without a permanent ceasefire, famine remains imminent.


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