Blinken says 100 percent of Gaza population facing unprecedented food insecurity

The entire population of Gaza is experiencing “severe levels of acute food insecurity,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday, underscoring the urgency of increasing the delivery of humanitarian aid into the Palestinian territory.

“According to the most respected measure of these things, 100 percent of the population in Gaza is at severe levels of acute food insecurity. That’s the first time an entire population has been so classified,” Blinken told a press conference in the Philippines, where he is on an official visit.

Blinken’s remarks came on the eve of a trip to the Middle East, this time to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to discuss efforts to secure a temporary ceasefire in Gaza and ramp up aid deliveries.

A United Nations-backed food security assessment warned Monday that half of Gazans are experiencing “catastrophic” hunger, with famine projected to hit the north of the territory by May unless there is urgent intervention.

According to the assessment, 95% of the Strip’s roughly 2.23 million residents currently face high levels of acute food insecurity. The analysis projected that the entire population would reach this status by mid-July, under the assumption that hostilities in Gaza intensify and that Israeli forces expand a ground offensive into Rafah, a move currently opposed by the US.

Martin Griffiths, the UN’s humanitarian chief, has called for Israel to allow unfettered aid into the besieged Palestinian territory, saying there was “no time to lose.”

Israel inspects all deliveries headed into the enclave to ensure materiel is not being smuggled to Hamas, slowing the process. Aid has been particularly slow to reach northern Gaza, leading the UN to warn for weeks that a famine is looming.

Donors have turned to deliveries by air or sea, but these are not viable alternatives to land deliveries, UN agencies say.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification partnership said Monday that while the technical criteria for a famine had not yet been met, “all evidence points towards a major acceleration of deaths and malnutrition.”

Citing UN data, Blinken said 100 percent of the population in Gaza needed humanitarian assistance, compared with 80 percent in Sudan and 70 percent in Afghanistan.

“This only underscores both the urgency, the imperative, of making this the priority,” Blinken said of aid deliveries. “We need more, we need it to be sustained, and we need it to be a priority if we’re going to effectively address the needs of people.”

Blinken spoke from Manila, where he is visiting as part of a brief Asia tour aimed at reinforcing US support for regional allies against China.

The Gaza war broke out after Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7. Some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and another 253 abducted into Gaza as thousands of terrorists rampaged through southern Israel, carrying out atrocities such as rape and torture.

Israel responded with a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory, vowing to eliminate the terror group and free hostages.

During a joint press conference with his Philippine counterpart, Blinken was asked about steps he was taking to address the lack of access to Gaza for foreign journalists.

“There are obviously profound security considerations in an active war zone and those have to be taken into account,” Blinken said. “But the basic principle of access for journalists is something we stand strongly behind.”

(Source: Times of Israel)