Parts of Gaza are facing famine, World Food Program chief says

Cindy McCain, director of the World Food Program, said “full-scale hunger” in parts of the Gaza Strip is rapidly spreading across the strip after nearly seven months of war.

McCain is the second prominent American leading the U.S. government and U.N. aid efforts to say there is famine in northern Gaza, but her remarks constitute a formal declaration, a complex bureaucratic process. It’s not a thing.

“There’s hunger. There’s real hunger in the North, and it’s moving south,” McCain said in an excerpt from Friday’s announcement. Interview with “Meet the Press”” Interviewer Kristen Welker asked McCain to repeat himself.

“What you’re saying matters,” Welker says. “Are you saying there is a full-scale famine in northern Gaza?”

Mr. McCain replied, “Yes, I do.” “Yes, it is.”

The first U.S. official to say there was famine in Gaza during the conflict was U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power, who spoke in Congressional testimony last month.

McCain was appointed U.S. ambassador to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2021 by President Biden and became head of the U.N. agency WFP last year.

Official declarations of famine typically involve both the United Nations and the government of the country where the famine is occurring, but it is unclear which local authorities have the authority to do so in Gaza.

McCain did not explain in the interview why an official famine declaration was not made. But she said her assessment was “based on what we have seen and experienced on the ground.”

“It’s scary,” she said. “It’s hard to see and it’s hard to hear. I really hope we can get a ceasefire and start feeding people, especially in the north, sooner.”

The Gaza Strip is suffering from what experts call a severe man-made hunger crisis as a result of Israeli shelling and restrictions, making it extremely difficult for aid to reach the area. The amount of aid flowing into Gaza has increased recently, but aid groups say it is far from enough.

In the first weeks of the war, Israel maintained a so-called “total siege” of the Gaza Strip, with Defense Minister Yoav Galant saying that no “electricity, food, water or fuel” would be allowed into the strip. Israeli forces also destroyed Gaza’s ports, restricted fishing, and bombed many farms.

Israel eventually eased its siege, but put in place a thorough inspection process, saying it was necessary to ensure supplies did not fall into Hamas hands. Aid groups and diplomats say inspections are creating bottlenecks, with Israel using them to deny aid on false grounds such as water purifiers, solar power and medical kits containing scissors. It is accused of being

Volker Türk, UN human rights chief, said: stated in a statement Last month, he said Israel’s policies regarding aid to Gaza could constitute a war crime.

Israel has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to allow aid to Gaza after Israeli forces killed seven international aid workers at the World Central Kitchen in an airstrike.

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