Massive increase in aid to Gaza desperately needed to stop children dying from starvation

March 11, 2024 (Toronto) – Children are dying from starvation in Gaza. As the risk of avoidable famine increases each day, Plan International calls for an immediate, unconditional and permanent ceasefire and a massive increase in humanitarian assistance and improved access for relief supplies and humanitarian workers.

Starvation of civilians illegal under International Humanitarian Law

According to the UN, as of March 7 one in six children under the age of two is acutely malnourished in the north of Gaza.

Israel’s restrictions as well as Israeli military attacks against humanitarian aid, health and relief workers are preventing the safe, unfettered delivery of aid.

The situation demands immediate and concerted global action to prevent further loss of life due to hunger and starvation.

Starvation of the civilian population is illegal under International Humanitarian Law.

Children and families reliant on aid for survival

Relatives of those residing in Gaza have told Plan International their loved ones in Gaza are relying on humanitarian aid to survive.

“They are mostly surviving off bread, however most of the time the bread is mouldy, and they must eat around it,” a Palestinian resident of Jerash refugee camp in Jordan told Plan International. “The food they do eat is from the aid provided, but it’s never enough.”

Others are drinking rainwater and women are forgoing food so that what little they have can go to their children.

All children under age 5 are at risk of severe malnutrition

In December 2023, the UN issued a stark warning that all 335,000 children under the age of five in Gaza are at risk of severe malnutrition, and at high risk of dying from hunger. The situation has deteriorated drastically since then.

Restrictions in vital humanitarian aid are directly contributing to this. According to the UN, “malnutrition rates with and for children under five in northern Gaza, where access to aid has been limited, were three times higher than those in the south.”

To address this human–made, preventable catastrophe, it is imperative to establish secure, transparent channels to deliver life-saving aid through all entry points on the ground. In addition, all other options to ensure that food, medical assistance, clean water and sanitation supplies reach those in need must also be explored.

Blocking and arbitrarily denying aid must cease immediately.

Access for humanitarian aid is essential

Road transport remains the most effective way to get the volume of urgently required aid to those who need it.

We call for a rapid increase in aid delivered via ground routes, and for guaranteed secure, unimpeded access for humanitarian workers to reach the civilian population, an obligation under International Humanitarian Law.

We also reiterate our call for the release of all civilian hostages and Palestinian children held as prisoners.

For children in Gaza, time is rapidly running out. At least 12,800 Palestinian children have been killed in five months, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Urgent action is needed now to avert further tragedy and prevent even more loss of life.

About Plan International Canada

Plan International Canada is a member of a global organization dedicated to advancing children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan International has been building powerful partnerships for children for over 85 years and is now active in more than 80 countries.

We stand with children, especially girls, wherever they are oppressed, exploited, left behind or not equally valued. We’re determined optimists and will continue to persevere until we are all equal.

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