NEW YORK (Agencies): Cindy McCain, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), has declared a “full-blown famine” in northern Gaza. This comes after seven months of relentless bombing by Israel and several Israeli restrictions on food deliveries to the besieged Palestinian enclave.

McCain, in an interview with NBC’s news show “Meet The Press”, stated that famine often occurs in times of war and high emotions. She believes that a “full-blown famine” is present in northern Gaza and is spreading southwards.

While the United Nations has warned of an “imminent” famine in Gaza since mid-March, it has not officially declared a famine in the territory. Samantha Power, the director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), was the first U.S. official to state that it was credible to assess that famine is occurring in parts of Gaza.

McCain expressed her hope for a ceasefire in Gaza so that people can be fed more quickly. She emphasized that the people in Gaza need water, sanitation, and medicine, all of which are part of the famine issue.

Efforts to provide food aid to Gaza have been met with resistance from Israel and ceaseless airstrikes. World Central Kitchen, a U.S.-based nonprofit group, resumed operations after seven of its aid workers were killed by an Israeli airstrike on April 1. The group has distributed over 43 million meals across Gaza.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the international community to do everything possible to avert a preventable human-made famine. He stressed that humanitarian convoys, facilities, personnel, and those in need must not be targets. He called on Israel to allow and facilitate safe, rapid, and unimpeded humanitarian access throughout Gaza, including for the UN’s Palestine relief agency, UNRWA.

Guterres also highlighted the decimation of the health system in Gaza due to Israeli attacks, with two-thirds of hospitals and health centers out of commission and many of the remaining ones seriously damaged. He voiced deep alarm over reports of the discovery of mass graves at several locations, including at Al-Shifa and Nasser hospitals.

The UN chief called for independent international forensic investigators to be allowed immediate access to these sites to determine the precise circumstances under which hundreds of Palestinians lost their lives and were buried or reburied. He emphasized that the families of the dead and missing have a right to know what happened, and the world has a right to accountability for any violations of international law that may have occurred.

Guterres ended his remarks by drawing attention to UNRWA and its indispensable work supporting millions of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. He urged Member States and donors to pledge generously to ensure the agency’s work continues, reaffirming hope for a two-State solution – the only sustainable path to peace and security for Israelis, Palestinians, and the wider region.

By Media

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