In January, doctors volunteering for MAP in Gaza reported seeing signs of serious malnutrition in both children and adults. Then in February, the UN warned that the decline in the nutrition status of the population in Gaza was unprecedented; people were being starved at the fastest rate the world had ever seen.

Now we have learnt that famine is imminent in Gaza and that half the population, from the north to south, is facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity. One in three children under two years of age in the north is now acutely malnourished, affecting their immune systems and making them more likely to die from infectious diseases.

Yet aid trucks destined for Gaza are still being prevented from accessing people in need by the Israeli military, while Palestinians are being attacked by Israeli forces  trying to get food for their families. 

It is clear that starvation is being used as a weapon of war.

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“Children have started going out on the streets with their plates, and empty pots and spoons banging on them and shouting they want to eat. If this situation continues, I’m afraid the worst will happen and more people will die of starvation. ”

– Mahmoud Shalabi, MAP’s Senior Programme Manager in northern Gaza.

Recent initiatives such as airdrops and temporary seaports are not realistic or lasting solutions to end the famine and sustain life in Gaza. People need aid now, not in a few weeks once a makeshift port has been built, and at least 500 trucks of supplies a day, not a few tons here and there.

It is approaching six months since Israel launched its military bombardment and total closure of Gaza. This is long past time for the UK Government to step up pressure on Israel to reopen land crossings for aid and aid workers, and to ensure an immediate and permanent ceasefire. Only then can humanitarian organisations like MAP begin to provide urgent medical care at scale to those in need.