UN cautions over ‘unprecedented’ levels of ‘near famine-like conditions’ in Gaza Strip

The population of the Gaza Strip is suffering from "unprecedented" levels of "near famine-like" situation as the Israeli war on the besieged enclave drags on, the UN's agriculture agency has cautioned.

Some 550,000 people are now likely facing catastrophic food insecurity levels, while the whole population is in crisis mode, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced.

“There are unprecedented levels of acute food insecurity, hunger, and near famine-like conditions in Gaza,” FAO Deputy Director General Beth Bechdol said in an interview published by the Rome-based agency.

“We are seeing more and more people essentially on the brink of and moving into famine-like conditions every day,” she continued, adding all 2.2 million people in Gaza are in the top three hunger categories, from level three, which is considered an emergency, to level five, or catastrophe.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) rates hunger levels from one to five.

“At this stage, probably about 25 percent of that 2.2 million are in that top-level IPC five category,” Bechdol said.

Before the conflict, the people of Gaza had “a self-sustaining fruit and vegetable production sector, populated with greenhouses, while there was also a robust backyard small-scale livestock production sector,” Bechdol added

“We’ve recognised from our damage assessments that most of these animal inventories, but also the infrastructure that is needed for that kind of specialty crop production, are virtually destroyed.”

Since a cross-border incursion by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people, an Israeli offensive into Gaza has killed more than 28,000 people and caused mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which in an interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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