Gaza’s famine is underway

Gaza’s famine is underway

Jeremy Konyndyk writes:

Three months ago the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) process (the official process for assessing famine risk) issued an urgent warning: the entire population of Gaza was “at risk” of famine, and over half a million people were already experiencing famine-level food shortages. Last week, the IPC upgraded that warning, projecting that famine in Gaza is now “imminent.” 1.1 million people, half the territory’s population, are in IPC Phase V, the highest level of risk. Yet the IPC process stopped short of declaring an active famine.

So is famine in Gaza looming? Imminent? Or already happening? Here is a quick rundown on how to understand the new projections.

Bottom line up front: available evidence strongly indicates that famine is getting underway in Gaza. The window to “avert” it has closed, and the focus must now pivot to containing the damage. As prospects for an enduring cease-fire remain pessimistic, tens of thousands of lives, perhaps more, hang in the balance.

Notwithstanding the hedged technical language of the official IPC forecast, Gaza’s famine is no longer “imminent.” Its impact is now being felt. If the December IPC forecast was telling us that the hurricane was 50 miles offshore and barreling towards the Florida coast, the new IPC forecast is telling us that its outer bands are making landfall as a Cat V.

The window to “avert” Gaza’s famine has now closed. The priority now must be to stem the damage. The actions by the U.S. and Israeli governments in the coming weeks will determine whether the famine kills thousands, tens of thousands, or potentially more.

While the official analytical process will take time to catch up, the signs are clear. The IPC report itself indicates that two of the three famine thresholds have already been met. Food deprivation had already surpassed famine-like conditions in the IPC’s earlier warning in December, and has now reached catastrophic levels throughout the territory. Malnutrition is exploding, with rates of acute malnutrition doubling since January. Famine thresholds for malnutrition appear to have been breached in the north of Gaza and are being rapidly approached elsewhere. [Continue reading…]

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