Time is Running Out for Thousands More as Threat of Famine Escalates in Gaza

11 January 2024

Almost 100 days into the conflict and siege on Gaza, people are starving, sick, and displaced. Forced to flee their homes repeatedly, 1.9 million Gazans are now confronting the harsh winter conditions - thousands of them in makeshift tents that are inundated with rainwater and infested with rodents, a breeding ground for the spread of illness and disease. The entire population is facing acute food insecurity, intensified by extremely limited available food in the market, exorbitant prices of available goods, and almost complete dependence on a trickle of aid that is wholly inadequate to meet the needs of 2.3 million Gazans.

Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, Chief Executive Officer of Mercy Corps says:

“Time is running out for Gazans who face starvation as food, water, and medicine run out and the siege continues. Each day they are forced to choose between staying with their families so that they can die together or risk going out to seek food and water.

“Our teammates share their heartbreak as their children cry for food or water and they are unable to provide it. Lena said: ‘As of now, we don't have a drop of water, neither for drinking nor for any other purposes. No matter what I say, the situation is more challenging than you can ever imagine.’

“They report that prices of essential items like flour, clean drinking water, and fuel have skyrocketed to 10, or in some cases, 20 times their normal amount, if they are even available in the market.

“Meanwhile, tragically, thousands of commercial and humanitarian aid trucks are lined up just across the border, often for several weeks at a time. Only around 130 trucks make it through each day, and hundreds more will be rejected at the border, never to reach the tens of thousands of Gazans who are on the brink of starvation a few miles away.

“The current process imposed on aid delivery at the border is painfully slow and unpredictable. We urge all parties to take urgent action to accelerate the inspection mechanisms, including adding more inspectors to process aid convoys faster, opening other crossings, and lifting the arbitrary restrictions on what are considered essential supplies like food, water, fuel, and winterization items.

“Each day this nightmare in Gaza continues without sufficient humanitarian access and restoration of critical services, the health of hundreds of thousands of injured and ill people will deteriorate; 335,000 children under the age of five alone will plunge further toward severe malnutrition; and 500,000 people will confront the growing possibility of starvation. 

"Let’s be clear—these outcomes are entirely preventable. We urge an immediate and sustained humanitarian ceasefire, an end to the siege, and a massive scale-up of humanitarian assistance to avert a further and terrible deterioration of this humanitarian catastrophe.”



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