The war in Gaza is a creating a new enemy for innocent victims: hunger. The United Nations reported today that 485,000 displaced persons are in need of emergency food assistance. The hunger crisis is most urgent "to thousands of displaced people in informal shelters in Rafah, Khan Younis and Gaza city."
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is leading the emergency response in Gaza. WFP has quickly scaled up its operations to feed over 250,000 war victims. The fighting limits access to those in need.
WFP director Ertharin Cousin says, “WFP and humanitarian counterparts on the ground continue to remain operational and it is crucial that we have unhindered access to the people who need our help and that civilians are protected.”
A factory which produced food for a WFP school feeding program in the West Bank and Gaza has been hit and burned to the ground. It was also reported on Friday that a WFP food warehouse had been damaged. WFP is struggling to move food to the safest possible locations.
WFP is also facing problems with funding. The UN food agency relies entirely on voluntary donations. Wars in Syria, South Sudan and Central African Republic have placed a great strain on resources. The Gaza crisis also comes on the heels of the conflict in Iraq where WFP is also providing emergency food aid. WFP needs US $ 20 million to continue its Gaza emergency response the rest of this year.
The UN today also issued a further warning about the health of children in Gaza. The need for vitamin rich foods is crucial especially for those under age 2. Malnutrition, which can quickly escalate in a war zone, will cause lasting physical and mental damage in children. It can also kill children. Should the fighting continue, malnutrition will continue to gain strength within Palestine. Peace cannot be forged with children suffering from the lack of food.
The World Food Programme has set up a donation page for the hunger emergencies.