Nine out of 10 children in Gaza lack food to grow: UNICEF | Israel-Palestine Conflict News

A new report examines child food poverty around the world, focusing especially on the “catastrophic impact” of Israel’s attack on Gaza.

About 90 percent of children in Gaza lack nutrition and face “serious” threats to their “survival, growth and development,” according to the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF.

A report, published by UNICEF on Thursday, revealed the “catastrophic impact” of Israel’s offensive in the enclave, which has caused the “collapse” of the food and health systems, and found that one in 10 children survived with “two or fewer food groups.” per day” between December of last year and April of this year.

Describing “a shocking escalation in nutritional deprivation,” the report also highlighted that 65 percent of children were fed diets with “only one or no food group” in February, six times more than in the first half of December of last year.

Israel says it places no limits on humanitarian supplies to civilians in Gaza and has blamed the United Nations for the slow pace of deliveries, saying its operations are inefficient.

But with pockets of famine emerging in Gaza, with some children dying of malnutrition and dehydration, even Israel’s staunchest allies have increased pressure for it to do more to allow food in.

The UNICEF report says military action, which has destroyed food systems while imposing “severe restrictions on the import of commercial goods and humanitarian supplies,” has “deprived millions of the food, water and fuel they need.”

Global deprivation

The report, titled Child Food Poverty: Nutritional Deprivation in Early Childhood, examined food poverty among the world’s youngest in 100 countries.

It warned that more than one in four children under five years of age live in “severe” food poverty, meaning more than 180 million face adverse impacts on their growth and development.

Of children living in severe food poverty, 65 percent reside in just 20 countries. About 64 million affected children are in South Asia, while 59 million are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Citing the situation in Gaza and Somalia, where more than half of children suffer from food poverty caused by conflict and natural disasters, the report highlights the speed with which children are being placed “at risk of life-threatening malnutrition.”

“It’s shocking in these times that we know what needs to be done,” Harriet Torlesse, one of the report’s main writers, told the AFP news agency.

To achieve the minimum dietary diversity for healthy development, children should consume foods from at least five of the eight food groups defined by a dietary diversity score used by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).

These include breast milk, eggs, dairy products, and meat, poultry, and fish, among other groups.

Children who consume just two food groups a day are up to 50 percent more likely to experience severe forms of malnutrition, UNICEF chief Catherine Russell said in a statement accompanying the report.

Malnutrition can cause wasting, a state of abnormal thinness that can be fatal. Even if these children survive and grow, “they certainly do not thrive. That’s why they do worse in school,” Torlesse explained.

“As adults, it becomes more difficult for them to earn a decent income, and that changes the cycle of poverty from one generation to the next,” he said.

Around the world, the agency noted “slow progress over the past decade” to address the crisis and called for better social services and humanitarian aid for the most vulnerable children.

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