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Half a million people in Gaza face famine, report says: Live updates on Israel-Hamas war

Officially determining that famine exists is a technical process. It requires expert analysis and only government agencies and top United Nations officials can make such claims.

So how is famine defined? Here’s a closer look.

What is famine?

Food safety experts are working on it Integrated food security stage classificationor IPC, an initiative controlled by United Nations agencies and major aid agencies, defines hunger in an area based on three conditions:

  • At least 20% of households face severe food shortages.

  • At least 30 percent of children suffering from acute malnutrition.

  • For every 10,000 people, at least two adults or four children die every day from starvation or illness related to malnutrition.

Since the IPC was developed in 2004, it has only been used to identify two famines: in Somalia in 2011 and in South Sudan in 2017. In Somalia, more than 100,000 people died before the famine was officially declared. announced.

IPC analysts expressed deep concern about food insecurity in Yemen and Ethiopia related to the civil wars in those countries, but said the government did not have enough information to report. issue an official assessment.

The classification of famine in Somalia and South Sudan prompted global action and prompted large donations.

What did the IPC say about the famine in Gaza?

The IPC’s first report on Gaza, released in December, found that the enclave’s entire population is experiencing food insecurity at crisis levels or worse. Although the group said Gaza had not yet crossed the famine threshold, it warned that the risk of famine levels would increase if the war did not stop.

ONE second analysis in March predicted that famine was “imminent” for 300,000 Palestinian civilians in northern Gaza and that such conditions would develop by the end of May.

The group’s analysis on Tuesday said nearly half a million people in Gaza face starvation because of catastrophic food shortages. They said aid deliveries had improved the situation in the north, but Israeli ground operations in the south had disrupted aid distribution there.

What are the complications in declaring famine?

The December IPC analysis was based on publicly available data from local and international aid groups in Gaza, which the group said met its methodological standards. But IPC analysts said they lacked recent data on the prevalence of acute malnutrition. Obtaining that data is difficult in war zones and puts a burden on already overwhelmed medical staff, the group added.

The organization’s criteria were originally designed to address weather-related famines, not wartime crises like in Gaza. But most serious famine crises in recent history have been caused by conflict, not weather.

And while IPC experts do the analysis that can classify the famine, it is up to government agencies and the United Nations to officially declare a famine.

In some cases, countries have hesitated to do so. In 2022, the president of Somalia expressed reluctance to declare famine during the severe famine crisis caused by the drought. And in 2021, Ethiopia prevented a famine classification in the Tigray region through strong lobbying, according to a top United Nations official.

It is unclear exactly which authority can declare famine in Gaza. The IPC team said the process typically involves a country’s government and top United Nations officials. Determining who has authority in Gaza is beyond the scope of this organization.


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