Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

There is currently no famine in Gaza, a new report by the key Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) organization has found, despite the IPC having predicted in March that a full-blown famine would break out in the territory between March and July 2024.

The study released on Tuesday stated that assumptions the previous projection had made about the amount of food that would enter the territory turned out to be wrong, and that the supply of food to Gaza has increased instead of decreased during recent months.

“In this context, the available evidence does not indicate that Famine is currently occurring,” the report said.

In particular, the study found no evidence that deaths from starvation reached famine levels, but did not provide any data about how many such deaths there may have been.

The report also dramatically reduced the percentage of the population it had previously said was in Level 5 (Catastrophe) and Level 4 (Emergency) status for food insecurity.

It cut those assessed at the catastrophe level by half, from 30%  to 15%, and reduced by a quarter the population percentage estimated to be at the emergency level, from 39% to 29%.

Palestinian children suffering from malnutrition or chronic diseases such as cancer, wait with family members at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on June 24, 2024, after they reportedly were given permission by the Israeli army to leave the besieged Palestinian territory for treatment through the Kerem Shalom crossing, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (Bashar Taleb / AFP)

This, nevertheless, still amounts to some 343,000 Gazans at the catastrophe level, and the IPC reported that “a high and sustained risk of Famine across the whole Gaza Strip” remained and that “extreme human suffering is without a doubt currently ongoing in the Gaza Strip.”

The report is highly significant as accusations of famine in Gaza have formed an integral part of the allegations against Israel of genocide in the International Court of Justice, and of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the International Criminal Court.

The ICC did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to whether the new IPC report would impact the decision by its prosecutor Karim Khan to seek arrest warrants against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for using starvation as a method of warfare and for the “extermination” of the Palestinian population.

The IPC — which is connected to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN — is seen as a neutral and highly credible organization for evaluating where famines might be occurring around the globe, and issues analyses and projections to warn of impending famine and necessary measures to avoid it.

Its March report had determined that famine was imminent in Gaza and that 677,000 people were already in the catastrophe level of its food insecurity scale, which is a designation of famine for households.

The World Food Programme (WFP) of the UN also declared in May that there was a “full blown famine” in Gaza.

The absence of reports of large number of deaths from starvation that should have accompanied such a designation in the three months, following the publication of the study, began to raise doubts regarding its accuracy.

Israeli authorities responsible for delivering aid into Gaza have long insisted that sufficient aid is being brought into the territory to ensure the nutritional needs of the population are being met.

A spokesperson for WFP refused to comment as to whether the organization would retract its previous declaration of famine in Gaza.

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan (center) announces that he has requested arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Hanuyeh, May 20, 2024. (Courtesy International Criminal Court)

“In contrast with the assumptions made for the projection period (March – July 2024), the amount of food and non-food commodities allowed into the northern governorates increased,” the new IPC report found. “In this context, the available evidence does not indicate that Famine is currently occurring.”

The IPC’s study found that there had been “a marked improvement in the food consumption outcome indicators in all areas” beginning in January 2024, while it also noted significant improvements in the Households Hunger Score particularly in April and May.

The new report did assert that the food insecurity situation in Gaza remained “catastrophic” with “a high and sustained risk of Famine across the whole Gaza Strip.” It said that the “probable improvement in nutrition status” that took place in April and May “should not allow room for complacency about the risk of Famine in the coming weeks and months,” adding that “extreme human suffering is without a doubt currently ongoing in the Gaza Strip.”

The report warned that the most recent data from late May and early June indicated “a reversal of these improving trends and a general deterioration of the food consumption indicators.” This could likely be due to the IDF’s operation in Rafah in southern Gaza, which led over a million Palestinians to flee.

In its March report, the IPC found that the highest risk of famine had been in northern Gaza due to the lack of access there for humanitarian agencies.

The new report also found that there was a high level of disease among children under 5, with 91% of children in that age bracket experiencing one or more diseases in the two weeks prior to the survey, including 62% who experienced diarrhea and fever, 38% had had vomiting episodes, and 15% who had acute respiratory infections.

Results were slightly better for the northern governorates, but not by much.

A truck carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip drives at the Kerem Shalom border crossing between southern Israel and Gaza, on June 17, 2024. (Ahikam SERI / AFP)

The IPC report said that due to the lack of humanitarian access and insecurity, no population surveys had been conducted on malnutrition.

New data on a key physical indicator of malnutrition, called Middle Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) screenings, indicated a “very steep fall” in acute malnutrition in northern Gaza.

Rates in southern Gaza were higher, although the average was well below levels that would indicate that the situation in those regions amounted to the IPC’s emergency and catastrophe levels of food insecurity, its highest designations.

“The situation in Gaza is catastrophic, there is a high and sustained risk of Famine across the whole Gaza Strip,” the IPC concluded.

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#Key #food #security #org #finds #famine #Gaza #previous #assumptions #wrong

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