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Children in northern Gaza dying of starvation: WHO

by Marko Florentino
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The Director-General of the World Health Organization urged Israel to ensure humanitarian aid can be delivered to Gaza, as famine looms.


Children in northern Gaza are dying of starvation, according to the WHO. 

In a post on X, World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reported “grim findings” after the WHO visited two hospitals in northern Gaza.

“Severe levels of malnutrition, children dying of starvation, serious shortages of fuel, food and medical supplies, hospital buildings destroyed,” he wrote on the social media platform on Monday.  

At Kamal Adwan Hospital – the only paediatrics hospital in the north of Gaza – Ghebreyesus said a “lack of food” had resulted in the deaths of 10 children. 

The situation at Al-Awda Hospital – the second facility visited by the WHO team – was “particularly appalling,” he continued, with one of the buildings destroyed. 

He said it was the UN agency’s first visit to the area since early October when the Israel Hamas war broke out.

Ghebreyesus’s announcement follows recent reports that six children died from dehydration and malnutrition at the two hospitals, which have gone out of service owing to a lack of fuel to run their generators. 

“We appeal to Israel to ensure humanitarian aid can be delivered safely, and regularly,” he wrote on X.

“Civilians, especially children, and health staff need scaled-up help immediately. But the key medicine all these patients need is peace. Ceasefire.” 

An estimated 300,000 people are living in northern Gaza, with little food or clean water. 

Israel’s military offensive in Gaza first targeted the north – where experts at the City University of New York and Oregon State University say 80% of buildings have been destroyed.

The area has been almost completely cut off from aid since the start of the war on 7 October, with Israeli forces routinely accused of blocking supplies.

Amid what it called a “collapse of civil order”, the UN Organisation for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) paused aid delivered to northern Gaza in February. 

With the UN warning of “pockets of famine” in January, increasing numbers of desperate people have tried to get aid from passing trucks. 

Israeli soldiers fired at crowds massing near an aid convoy in central Gaza City on Thursday, triggering a stampede that – along with the gunfire – killed scores. 

The United Nations food agency also paused aid deliveries to northern Gaza on 20 February, citing Israeli gunfire as well as “complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order” in the area.

UNRWA has been permitted by Israeli authorities to deliver aid to northern Gaza for more than a month, while humanitarian organisations have increasingly lamenting at the minimal amount of aid allowed into the enclave. 

A senior UN aid official has warned that at least 576,000 people across the Gaza Strip – one-quarter of the population – face catastrophic levels of food insecurity. 


One in six children under the age of two in the north are estimated to be suffering from acute malnutrition.

Writing on X, WHO Director-General Ghebreyesus said the WHO had “managed to deliver 9,500 litres of fuel to each hospital and some essential medical supplies.”

“This is a fraction of the urgent lifesaving needs,” he continued.

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