In the northern regions of Gaza, isolated communities are grappling with a dire food crisis as aid convoys face increased denials of permits to enter the area. Shockingly, children are reported to be going without food for days, prompting some residents to resort to grinding animal feed into flour for survival. However, even these grain stocks are rapidly depleting.
As aid missions are increasingly denied access, residents have shared stories of desperate measures, including digging into the soil to access water pipes for drinking and washing. The United Nations (UN) has issued a warning about the sharp rise in acute malnutrition among young children in the north, surpassing the critical threshold of 15%.
The UN’s humanitarian coordination agency, Ocha, reported that over half of the aid missions to northern Gaza were denied access last month. It highlighted growing interference from Israeli forces in the delivery of aid, leaving an estimated 300,000 people in the northern areas largely cut off from assistance and facing an escalating risk of famine.
Cogat, the Israeli military agency overseeing aid access in Gaza, has consistently denied allegations of limiting humanitarian aid but acknowledged that no starvation exists in Gaza. Local reports and interviews conducted by journalists revealed the alarming conditions faced by residents.
Mahmoud Shalabi, a medical aid worker in Beit Lahia, spoke about the scarcity of basic food items in the market, with stocks of tinned food rapidly disappearing. He emphasized that people are surviving on rice and expressed concerns about the exhaustion of available resources.
The World Food Programme (WFP) revealed that Israeli forces had halted four out of the last five aid convoys into the north, creating a two-week gap between deliveries to Gaza City. WFP Regional Chief Matt Hollingworth stressed the urgent need for significant food assistance to prevent a serious famine in Gaza.
UN Ocha reported a substantial increase in aid missions denied access to northern Gaza, reaching 56% in January, up from 14% in the previous months. The Israeli military’s involvement in justifying fuel quantities for health facilities and imposing reductions on assistance volume further complicates the situation.
Residents, struggling to find reliable water supplies, are resorting to drinking unpotable water and digging for water due to the lack of pipes. The dire conditions are heightening concerns about a potential humanitarian catastrophe in the region.