IPC Report: Half of Gaza Experiencing ‘Catastrophic’ Hunger, Famine Imminent in Northern Governates

ByCARE Australia March 19, 2024 0 comments

The Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Phase Classification (IPC) report, released on Monday paints an extraordinarily dire picture of extreme hunger, malnutrition, and desperation in Gaza. It also underscores how fast the humanitarian crisis has been accelerating and widening, confirming continuous warnings by aid groups like CARE since the beginning of the conflict.

“The crisis in Gaza is entirely man-made. It’s a direct result of an ongoing siege restricting the entry and delivery of essential humanitarian and commercial supplies, the denial of security guarantees and the continued blockade on water and electricity,” said Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro, CARE International’s Secretary General “This is compounded by incessant and indiscriminate bombardments and attacks, including against aid convoys. Global leaders are right to be warning against the use of starvation as a tool of war, this senseless situation is heartbreaking, not least because it is avoidable”

According to the report, Famine – which describes “the absolute inaccessibility of food to an entire population or sub-group of a population, potentially causing death in the short term” – is imminent, if not already present, in the northern governates of Gaza, anytime between now and May 2024. The IPC global Famine Review Committee also concluded that there is a “risk of Famine” in the “combined southern and middle governates,” with a reasonable probability of going into Famine between now and July.

The IPC also found that 1.11 million people – half of the population in the Gaza Strip – are experiencing ‘Catastrophic’ levels of hunger. This refers to the highest, most acute stage of the IPC’s food insecurity classification system, Phase 5, where populations face an extreme lack of food and are unable to meet other basic needs. Those in Phase 5 are starving and face a significantly increased risk of acute malnutrition and death.

The rest of Gaza’s population is facing high levels of acute food insecurity – with nearly all families skipping meals every day, and adults reducing their meals so that children can eat.

“This situation is simply unbearable, unjustifiable and needs to stop immediately,” said Hiba Tibi, Country Director for CARE in West Bank and Gaza.

“Only an immediate ceasefire and urgent action to ensure access to healthcare, food, water, and the other basic necessities of life for Palestinians in Gaza, especially women and children, will change the trajectory of this crisis unfolding before our eyes at an unprecedented rate.”

“Restrictions on aid severely hamper the ability of humanitarian actors to deliver critically needed aid. Between January and February, the levels of aid that Israel permitted into Gaza decreased by 50%,” said Tibi.

Speaking of recent efforts and further plans to bring in aid by air and sea, Tibi added: “They should not be seen as a substitute for land deliveries. The most straightforward, immediate, and cost-effective way of getting the urgently needed aid into Gaza remains through the existing land crossings.”

While the Israeli bombardment and ground attacks of Gaza have already killed more than 31,000 Palestinians – 13,000 of whom are children – starvation and malnutrition deaths are now being reported. This signals a new tipping point in this war. And the speed with which the humanitarian situation has deteriorated – which this IPC report confirms – means that these deaths will continue to grow exponentially.

“Our earlier fears that more would die in Gaza from hunger, dehydration and disease than from bombs, were well founded, sadly,” said Tibi.

“Starvation is cruel. It is a slow and painful death. Our partners who run health centers in Northern Gaza have reported that the number of children categorized as having moderate or severe malnutrition nearly doubled in February, compared to January. Their staff report watching children get thinner and thinner as the days go by and of kids who can barely speak and walk due to starvation.” She added: “We also hear of kids being born and dying in shelters without even being registered in the hospitals. It’s like they don’t exist.”

CARE is among the organizations that consistently lend their expertise to inform the work and conclusions of the IPC. Leading CARE’s technical work with the IPC partnership is Dalmar Ainashe, CARE’s Senior Technical Advisor for Food Security, Livelihoods, and Nutrition.

Drawing from more than 20 years of experience in acute food insecurity, malnutrition, and famines, he said: “Famines ‘normally’ take time to develop, so this crisis in Gaza is unparalleled in speed, scale, and severity. This crisis, at the apex of the IPC scale, is unprecedented since the IPC’s 2004 inception. The swift plunge into famine and the vast human suffering and anguish in Gaza is unmatched, emphasizing the need for urgent, extensive, and sustained humanitarian response.”

CARE reiterates its call for an immediate and sustained ceasefire, the free flow of humanitarian aid inside and throughout Gaza, the evacuation of the sick and wounded, and the release of all hostages.

Moreover, CARE urgently reminds UN Member States of UN Security Council Resolution 2417, unanimously passed in 2018, which is designed to trigger action from the Council when there is a risk of conflict-induced famine affecting civilian populations.

People are starving. Action is needed now.


For media enquiries contact Briony FitzGerald on 0404 117 927

About CARE International

CARE International has been operating in Gaza and the West Bank since 1948. Prior to the current conflict, we were supporting about 200,000 Palestinians in Gaza and we continue to support about 300,000 in the West Bank to meet basic food needs, improve farming and agriculture, empower women to earn an income, support women’s leadership, and improve health programs focused on gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health, and children’s mental health.

Since the escalation of the conflict, the CARE team in Gaza was able to distribute hygiene kits, shelter items such as blankets and mattresses, and drinking water to over 262,928 vulnerable displaced people. CARE also reached over 76,397 people with medical support, including medications, medical supplies, and primary health services.

About CARE Australia

CARE Australia supports women around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice. We work in partnership with local communities to provide equal opportunities for women that they have long been denied: the ability to earn an income, gain access to their fair share of resources, to lead and participate in decisions that affect their lives, and to be able to withstand the increasing impacts of climate disasters and other crises. www.care.org.au

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