"Full-blown famine" is taking place in Gaza, according to the executive director of the World Food Programme

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,- With nearly seven months of unrelenting fighting, the northern part of Gaza is now experiencing what has been called a "full-blown famine," with disastrous effects quickly extending throughout the strip. The World Food Programme (WFP) executive director made this startling disclosure, emphasising how urgently action is needed to stop the humanitarian catastrophe that is developing.

The scope of the situation engulfing Gaza draws attention as mediators gather in Cairo to try to achieve a truce in the ongoing conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives in the Palestinian territory. Speaking on "Meet the Press," NBC, Cindy McCain underlined the serious situation that is developing on the ground and that starvation is starting to spread, especially in the north and is now moving south.

Though they are based on the findings of WFP personnel on the ground in Gaza, McCain's comments do not amount to an official proclamation of famine. Declaring the situation to be "horror," McCain emphasized the tremendous difficulties in getting supplies to the area and the pressing necessity for a ceasefire and unhindered access for humanitarian agencies.

The challenge in entering Gaza has made it even more difficult to provide relief, and Israel is under increasing pressure to permit humanitarian aid after airstrikes killed seven employees of World Central Kitchen. Human rights organisations have long cautioned of a worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza, made worse by Israel's military campaign following Hamas's October 7 attacks.

With almost 34,600 Palestinians killed by Israeli attacks as of May 1, the Gaza health ministry reports, the fighting has had a startling impact on the people of Gaza. Forcibly displaced Palestinians number over 1.9 million, many of whom are taking sanctuary in crammed tent camps without food or proper sanitation. According to the health ministry, at least thirty children have already died from hunger and thirst, putting Gaza's population of nearly 2.2 million people in danger of starvation.

Renewed appeals for a ceasefire have been prompted by the possibility of an Israeli military attack in Rafah, in southern Gaza. Reports state that plans are in place to house those who might be uprooted by an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) invasion. Concerns have been raised, meantime, over the suitability of the provisions for the over a million persons who would be impacted.

Though plans are being made for possible relocation in Rafah, US officials have said that there is no immediate sign that Israeli forces will be entering the region. Though no timetable for any operation has been given, the Israeli government has informed humanitarian organizations of its intentions to evacuate residents from Rafah.

Both Israeli and Hamas representatives are in Cairo negotiating a ceasefire agreement. Even if a plan for a brief ceasefire and the release of Hamas captives has advanced, more talks are required to reach a comprehensive accord.

The Gaza humanitarian situation highlights how urgently hostilities must end and coordinated international measures to help those in need must be made. The suffering of the civilian population caught in the crossfire of war must be lessened quickly and decisively because lives are at risk.

(Newsline Paper Teams)
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