Saturday, July 13, 2024

Hundreds of thousands starving in Gaza as famine arrives at “incredible speed”: UN aid chief

Israel's war in Gaza has brought famine with "such incredible speed", the United Nations’ relief chief told CNN on Monday, as he warned that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are starving in the besieged strip.

The “great majority” of 400,000 Gazans characterized by UN agencies as at risk of starving “are actually in famine, not just at risk of famine”, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

“It’s been an extraordinary and holy unwelcome aspect of the Gazan war,” he said, adding, “It has brought famine with such incredible speed to the front of the lines.””

Aid has been trickling into Gaza slowly from two border crossings in the south.

Last week, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs announced Israel had denied critical supplies from entering northern Gaza. But Israel has accused the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency of not doing enough and “stalling” the progress.

Griffiths told CNN Monday that work to provide humanitarian aid to 300,000 Gazans who remain in the north of the strip continues to be a challenge.

“If you cannot rely on deconfliction of access routes of people in need, If you cannot rely on hospitals not being attacked … if you cannot rely on people having to move from one place of insecurity to another place of insecurity, those are the issues that make humanitarian aid deliveries.”

“It’s not a matter of the number of trucks that can get in,” he continued.

More than 24,000 people have been killed in Gaza and more than 60,000 others injured since October 7, the Hamas-run Ministry of Health reported Monday. Meanwhile, nearly 90% of Gaza’s pre-war population has been displaced, according to the UN.

Griffiths warned Monday that the dire humanitarian situation in the enclave could create “generational hatred”.

US-led strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen are another “serious consequence” of the war in Gaza, Griffiths said, as he lamented the negative impact on ordinary Yemenis following years of conflict in the country.

It was disappointing to see the prospect of peace in Yemen “snatched away”, Griffiths told CNN.

Griffiths stated he was “not blaming one side or the other”, adding, “But it’s one more terrible consequence. And it is a really serious consequence of the war in Gaza.”

In solidarity with the Palestinians in besieged territory, the Yemeni armed forces have targeted ships in the Red Sea with owners linked to Israel or those going to and from ports in the occupied territories.

In response, the US has formed a military coalition against Yemeni forces in the Red Sea and endangered maritime navigation in the strategic waterway.

The US and the UK, backed by Bahrain, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands, struck more than 60 targets at almost 30 locations in Yemen on Friday, killing five people and injuring six others.

On Saturday, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced that a “follow-on action” was conducted against a Yemeni radar facility in Sana’a by the Navy destroyer USS Carney using Tomahawk land attack missiles.

The assaults prompted Yemen’s Supreme Political Council to issue a statement, saying “all American-British interests have become legitimate targets”.

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