Northern Ireland

Christian Aid Ireland: Food supplies must be allowed to enter Gaza to halt famine

After almost six months of near constant bombardment from Israel, famine is now imminent for Palestinians

After almost six months of near constant bombardment from Israel, famine is now imminent for Palestinians
After almost six months of near constant bombardment from Israel, famine is now imminent for Palestinians

After almost six months of near constant bombardment, famine is now imminent in the Gaza strip.

On the news each night, we see agonising images of malnourished children, suffering because food aid is being blocked from reaching them.

At least 27 children have already died as a result of malnutrition and dehydration. Terrifyingly, this might just be the tip of the iceberg.

Nearly half the population of Gaza - more than one million people - are facing famine-like conditions.

The situation is so dire that colleagues from Christian Aid’s local partner in Gaza, the Agricultural Development Association (PARC), told me some people have resorted to eating grass and animal fodder to survive.

PARC staff are proving to be a last lifeline for many in northern Gaza, where food shortages are worst, feeding 2,000 people a day in Gaza city alone. Sadly, it is just a drop in the ocean compared to the scale of the need.

The famine unfolding in Gaza is an entirely preventable, man-made tragedy of epic proportions.

It is the direct consequence of the international community’s failure to deliver a permanent ceasefire and the refusal by Israel to allow aid to freely enter Gaza.

It is obscene that thousands of trucks continue to lie in wait to enter Gaza with desperately needed food and lifesaving supplies while people are starving to death.

Not even the legally binding orders to increase aid into Gaza from the International Court of Justice has resulted in any improvement.

A shocking symbol of international failure, we have also seen footage on our TV screens of aid dropped from the sky into Gaza in recent weeks. Air drops are costly, inefficient and simply do not contain enough food to prevent famine from taking hold. Crucially, airdrops are also dangerous. They can cause chaos on the ground, leaving people with little choice but to put themselves in harm’s way in order to retrieve them.

If there is to be any chance of halting famine in the Gaza strip, then all crossings into Gaza must be opened up.

The international community, particularly the US, UK and EU member states that continue to financially support this onslaught, must urgently change direction and do all in their power to ensure Israel opens those crossings and allows the UN and other agencies to deliver life-saving aid, in line with the International Court of Justice ruling and basic principles of international law.

However, only a permanent ceasefire can create the conditions that will allow aid convoys to move into and around the Gaza strip safely and deliver food and lifesaving supplies at the scale and pace needed.

The killing by an Israeli airstrike of seven more aid workers demonstrates the deadly risks of delivering aid without a ceasefire.

Despite coordinating their movements with the Israeli army, the World Central Kitchen staff were killed as they were leaving a warehouse recently filled with 100 tonnes of food aid.

Over 150 UN facilities have also shamefully been attacked during the conflict so far. Also 174 UN aid workers have been killed in the line of duty. Only a few weeks ago, and within just days of each other, two of our colleagues working for our local partner PCHR were killed by air strikes along with members of their families.

Gaza is hurtling towards famine. The clock is ticking. Palestinians in Gaza have no time to spare, and the international community simply have no time left to waste.

::Rosamond Bennett is Chief Executive of Christian Aid Ireland. To donate to Christian Aid’s appeal, visit: