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Famine should officially be declared in Gaza, urge rights group

Famine should officially be declared in Gaza, urge rights groups
2 min read
26 May, 2024
Over 70 organisations are calling for international institutions to declare famine in the Gaza Strip as it spreads in the enclave.
Palestinian children protest famine in Gaza's Rafah [Getty]

More than 70 international rights groups are calling for famine to be officially declared in the Gaza Strip as it rapidly spreads in the besieged and bombarded enclave.

In a joint statement, the groups said all relevant official authorities, the United Nations and international institutions should officially declare famine in the enclave, citing the rapid spread of acute malnutrition in the region.

Over 2.3 million people in the Gaza Strip, half of whom are children, are facing high levels of food insecurity, according to the Integrated Food Classification (IPC).

While several organisations and UN officials have asserted that famine has or will hit the enclave, world leaders are yet to announce a formal declaration.

To officially declare famine, a certain criterion must be met. Hunger levels are calculated against three separate criteria based on scientific standards and analytical approaches.

The criteria include one in every five households facing extreme food shortages, over three in 10 people malnourished, and two in every 10,000 people dying of starvation or from malnutrition and disease each day.

The IPC concluded in its 18 March report that each of the three famine thresholds has been passed or is likely to be passed imminently in the North Gaza and Gaza Governorates of the Gaza Strip.

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The threshold for acute food insecurity has “already been far exceeded”.

The rights groups note food insecurity has increased throughout the region due to Israel using starvation as a weapon of war against Palestinians, which the organisations say is “part of a larger crime of genocide”.

The threat of rising insecurity levels is also a result of Israel’s invasion of Rafah and aid trucks being blocked the day before, preventing vital supplies from reaching Palestinians.

The statement states that the international community has a "moral and legal obligation" to stop the spread of famine and provide life-saving aid.

"Delaying the official declaration of famine equates to failing to apply significant pressure on Israel to end its crimes and lift the arbitrary siege on Gaza. Further delays will only exacerbate hunger, poverty, malnourishment, and death," the statement said.

"International pressure must be applied to Israel immediately to stop it from carrying out the crime of starving the people living in the Gaza Strip, to lift the siege entirely, to establish the necessary systems to guarantee the safe, efficient, and timely delivery of humanitarian supplies, and to take significant action to address the rapidly spreading famine among Palestinian civilians in the Strip."