Over 5 Lakh People In War-Torn Gaza "One Step Away" From Famine, Warns UN

Some 97 percent of groundwater in Gaza is "reportedly unfit for human consumption", warned UN's Food and Agriculture Organization.

Over 5 Lakh People In War-Torn Gaza 'One Step Away' From Famine, Warns UN

All planned aid convoys into north Gaza have been denied by Israeli authorities in recent weeks

Famine is "imminent" in northern Gaza, where no humanitarian group has been able to provide aid since January 23, the World Food Programme warned Tuesday, as Israel wages war on Palestinian group Hamas.

With a dire humanitarian emergency unfolding in the Gaza Strip and the main UN aid agency there struggling to cope, other bodies have called for help in reaching the thousands of Palestinians in desperate need.  

"If nothing changes, a famine is imminent in northern Gaza," WFP's deputy executive director Carl Skau told the UN Security Council, while his colleague from the UN humanitarian office OCHA, Ramesh Rajasingham, warned of "almost inevitable" widespread starvation.

"Here we are, at the end of February, with at least 576,000 people in Gaza -- one-quarter of the population -- one step away from famine, with one in six children under two years of age in northern Gaza suffering from acute malnutrition and wasting," Rajasingham said. 

Some 97 percent of groundwater in Gaza is "reportedly unfit for human consumption" and agricultural production is beginning to collapse, warned Maurizio Martina, deputy director general of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 

Aid is ready and waiting at the border, a spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also said Tuesday.

"WFP colleagues also tell us that they have food supplies at the border with Gaza, and with certain conditions they would be able to scale up feeding up to 2.2 million people" across the Strip, Stephane Dujarric told reporters. 

"Almost 1,000 trucks carrying 15,000 metric tons of food are in Egypt ready to move," he said.

But Israeli forces are "systematically" blocking access to Gaza, said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for OCHA, in Geneva earlier Tuesday.

All planned aid convoys into the north have been denied by Israeli authorities in recent weeks.

The last allowed in was on January 23, according to the World Health Organization.

The main UN aid agency in Gaza, UNRWA, meanwhile, is "at breaking point," its head said last week, as donors freeze funding, Israel exerts pressure to dismantle the body and humanitarian needs soar. 

The Security Council must take action, the other agencies told the 15-member body.

"We must all double down and live up to our responsibilities to ensure it does not happen on our watch," Skau said. 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

.