Children’s lives threatened by rising malnutrition in Gaza

Children’s lives threatened by rising malnutrition in Gaza
Displaced Palestinian children gather to receive food at a government school in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Feb. 19, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 19 February 2024
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Children’s lives threatened by rising malnutrition in Gaza

Children’s lives threatened by rising malnutrition in Gaza
  • Situation is especially serious in the north, where one in six children under the age of two is acutely malnourished
  • Report finds at least 90 percent of children under 5 are affected by one or more infectious diseases

GENEVA/NEW YORK/ROME: A steep rise in malnutrition among children and pregnant and breastfeeding women in Gaza poses grave threats to their health, according to a comprehensive new analysis released by the Global Nutrition Cluster (GNC).

As the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip enters its 20th week, food and safe water have become incredibly scarce and diseases are rife, compromising women and children’s nutrition and immunity and resulting in a surge of acute malnutrition.

The report – Nutrition Vulnerability and Situation Analysis / Gaza – finds that the situation is particularly extreme in the Northern Gaza Strip, which has been almost completely cut off from aid for weeks. Nutrition screenings conducted at shelters and health centers in the north found that 15.6 percent — or 1 in 6 children under 2 years of age — are acutely malnourished. Of these, almost 3 percent suffer from severe wasting, the most life-threatening form of malnutrition, which puts young children at highest risk of medical complications and death unless they receive urgent treatment. As the data were collected in January, the situation is likely to be even graver today.

Similar screenings in the Southern Gaza Strip, in Rafah, where aid has been more available, found 5 percent of children under 2 years are acutely malnourished. This is clear evidence that access to humanitarian aid is needed and can help prevent the worst outcomes. It also reinforces agencies’ calls to protect Rafah from the threat of intensified military operations.

“The Gaza Strip is poised to witness an explosion in preventable child deaths which would compound the already unbearable level of child deaths in Gaza,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations, Ted Chaiban. “We’ve been warning for weeks that the Gaza Strip is on the brink of a nutrition crisis. If the conflict doesn’t end now, children’s nutrition will continue to plummet, leading to preventable deaths or health issues which will affect the children of Gaza for the rest of their lives and have potential intergenerational consequences.”

Before the recent months’ hostilities, wasting in the Gaza Strip was rare with just 0.8 percent of children under 5 years of age acutely malnourished. The rate of 15.6 percent of wasting among children under 2 in Northern Gaza suggests a serious and rapid decline. Such a decline in a population’s nutritional status in three months is unprecedented globally.

There is a high risk that malnutrition will continue to rise across the Gaza Strip due to the alarming lack of food, water and health and nutrition services:

  • 90 percent of children under the age of 2 and 95 percent of pregnant and breastfeeding women face severe food poverty – meaning they have consumed two or less food groups in the previous day — and the food they do have access to is of the lowest nutritional value.
  • 95 percent of households are limiting meals and portion sizes, with 64 percent of households eating only one meal a day. 
  • Over 95 percent of households said they had restricted the amount of food adults received in order to ensure small children had food to eat.

“The steep rise in malnutrition that we are seeing in Gaza is dangerous and entirely preventable”, said WFP Assistant Executive Director for Programme Operations, Valerie Guarnieri. “Children and women, in particular, need continuous access to healthy foods, clean water and health and nutrition services. For that to happen, we need decisive improvements on security and humanitarian access, and additional entry points for aid to enter Gaza.”

Inadequate safe drinking water, as well as insufficient water for cooking and hygiene purposes, are compounding poor nutrition. On average, households surveyed had access to less than one liter of safe water per person per day. According to humanitarian standards, the minimum amount of safe water needed in an emergency is three liters per person per day, while the overall standard is 15 liters per person, which includes sufficient quantities for drinking, washing and cooking.

Hungry, thirsty and weak, more Gazans are falling sick. The report finds at least 90 percent of children under 5 are affected by one or more infectious disease. Seventy percent had diarrhea in the past two weeks, a 23-fold increase compared with the 2022 baseline. 

“Hunger and disease are a deadly combination,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme. “Hungry, weakened and deeply traumatized children are more likely to get sick, and children who are sick, especially with diarrhea, cannot absorb nutrients well. It’s dangerous, and tragic, and happening before our eyes.”


Iran to hold presidential election on June 28: state media

Iran to hold presidential election on June 28: state media
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Iran to hold presidential election on June 28: state media

Iran to hold presidential election on June 28: state media
The election calendar was approved at the meeting of the heads of the judiciary, government, and parliament

TEHRAN: Iran announced Monday it will hold presidential elections on June 28, state media reported, following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi and his entourage in a helicopter crash.
“The election calendar was approved at the meeting of the heads of the judiciary, government, and parliament,” state television said.
“According to the initial agreement of the Guardian Council, it was decided that the 14th presidential election will be held on June 28.”

US says Houthis fired ballistic missile over Gulf of Aden

US says Houthis fired ballistic missile over Gulf of Aden
Updated 20 May 2024
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US says Houthis fired ballistic missile over Gulf of Aden

US says Houthis fired ballistic missile over Gulf of Aden
  • “This continued malign and reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners,” CENTCOM said
  • The Houthis did not claim credit for any fresh assaults on Monday, but they regularly do days later

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s Houthi militia launched a ballistic missile over the Gulf of Aden on Sunday, the US military said.
This comes as the Houthis intensified attacks on Yemeni government soldiers around the country.
The US military said in a statement on Monday morning Yemen time that at about 9:35 p.m. (Sanaa time) on Sunday, the Houthis launched one anti-ship ballistic missile from Yemen over the Gulf of Aden, but neither the US-led coalition nor international commercial ships reported being hit by the missile.
“This continued malign and reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden,” CENTCOM said.
The Houthis did not claim credit for any fresh assaults on Monday, but they regularly do days later.
The Houthis’ newest missile launch is part of an escalation of missile and drone strikes against commercial and navy ships in international seas near Yemen as well as in the Indian Ocean, which the Houthis claim are in support of Palestine.
The Houthis attacked dozens of ships with hundreds of ballistic missiles, drones and drone boats during their campaign against ships, which started in November.
They also took control of one commercial ship and destroyed another.
The US military said on Saturday that a Greek-owned and operated oil tanker heading toward China in the Red Sea, flying the flag of Panama, barely avoided being struck by a ballistic missile launched by the Houthis.
Meanwhile, four Yemeni government troops were killed on Monday while battling the Houthis in the province of Taiz, bringing the total number of soldiers killed in Houthi attacks to 11 in less than a week.
Local media said that the government’s Nation’s Shield Forces engaged in heavy fighting with the Houthis in the Hayfan area, on the border between Taiz and Lahj provinces, that left four of its soldiers dead.
On Saturday, a soldier from the same Yemeni military unit was killed and another injured while defending their position in Haydan against a Houthi onslaught.
Six more Yemeni soldiers from the government’s Giants Brigades were killed on Saturday in fighting with the Houthis in the Al-Abadia region of Marib’s central province.
On Monday, the Houthis held a military burial procession in Sanaa for two of their troops killed while battling with Yemeni government forces.
The Houthis have organized similar funerals for hundreds of fighters who have died on the front lines ever since the UN-brokered ceasefire came into effect in April 2022.
At the same time, official media said that Yemen’s Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Mohsen Al-Daeri met the UN Yemen envoy’s military adviser, General Antony Hayward, in Aden on Sunday to discuss Houthi attacks on government troops across the country, peace efforts to end the war, and the smuggling of Iranian weapons to the Houthis.
Al-Daeri said that the Houthis had breached agreements with the Yemeni government and would continue to pose a danger to international maritime lines as long as they controlled Yemeni territory on the Red Sea.
He also accused Iran of continuing to supply weapons and military officers to the Houthis through direct journeys from Iran’s Bandar Abbas port to the Houthi-controlled Hodeidah port.
On Monday, UN experts, including Nazila Ghanea, special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, urged the Houthis to release five members of the Bahai religious minority and to stop persecuting religious minorities in regions they control.
“We urge the de facto authorities to release these five individuals immediately and refrain from any further action that may jeopardize their physical and psychological integrity,” the experts said.
Armed Houthis abducted 17 Bahais, including five women, after bursting into a meeting in Sanaa a year ago, and they have refused to release them despite local and international requests.
According to the UN experts, the Houthis released 12 Bahais under “very strict conditions” after signing a written pledge not to communicate with other sect members, avoid religious activities and not leave cities without permission, and that the Houthis continue to hold five who are at risk of mistreatment by their captors.
“We are concerned that they continue to be at serious risk of torture and other human rights violations, including acts tantamount to enforced disappearance,” the UN experts said.


Egypt mourns death of Iran’s president

A person walks past a banner with a picture of the late Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on a street in Tehran, Iran May 20, 2024.
A person walks past a banner with a picture of the late Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on a street in Tehran, Iran May 20, 2024.
Updated 20 May 2024
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Egypt mourns death of Iran’s president

A person walks past a banner with a picture of the late Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on a street in Tehran, Iran May 20, 2024.
  • The Egyptian president expressed Egypt’s solidarity with the leadership and people of Iran during this tragic time

CAIRO: Egypt mourned the deaths of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Egypt’s presidency said in a statement: “It is with deep grief and sorrow that the Arab Republic of Egypt mourns the death of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and their escorts on Sunday in a tragic crash.

“President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi extends his sincere condolences to the people of Iran, asking Allah to envelop President Raisi and the deceased with his mercy and grant solace and comfort to their families.”

The Egyptian president expressed Egypt’s solidarity with the leadership and people of Iran during this tragic time.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry extended his condolences to the Iranian government and people over the deaths of Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian, according to ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid.

A helicopter carrying Raisi, Amir-Abdollahian, and several other officials crashed in mountainous terrain in the country’s northwest on Sunday. On Monday, Tehran announced the deaths of Raisi, Amir-Abdollahian, and their accompanying delegation in the crash.

 


Israel calls ICC prosecutor’s bid for PM arrest warrant a ‘historical disgrace’

Israel calls ICC prosecutor’s bid for PM arrest warrant a ‘historical disgrace’
Updated 20 May 2024
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Israel calls ICC prosecutor’s bid for PM arrest warrant a ‘historical disgrace’

Israel calls ICC prosecutor’s bid for PM arrest warrant a ‘historical disgrace’
  • Katz denounced the move as a “scandalous decision” that amounted to “a frontal attack... on the victims of October 7“
  • The minister added that Israel would establish a special committee to fight the ICC prosecutor’s efforts to secure a warrant

JERUSALEM: Israel on Monday slammed as a “historical disgrace” an application by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The prosecutor, Karim Khan, applied for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant as well as top Hamas leaders on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that Khan “in the same breath mentions the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense of the State of Israel alongside the abominable Nazi monsters of Hamas — a historical disgrace that will be remembered forever.”
The prosecutor said he was seeking warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant for crimes including “wilful killing,” “extermination and/or murder” and “starvation.”
Katz denounced the move as a “scandalous decision” that amounted to “a frontal attack... on the victims of October 7” when Hamas launched their attack on Israel, sparking the Gaza war.
The minister added that Israel would establish a special committee to fight the ICC prosecutor’s efforts to secure a warrant, and also embark on a diplomatic push against it.
Katz said he planned to “speak with foreign ministers in leading countries of the world so that they oppose the prosecutor’s decision and announce that, even if orders are issued, they do not intend to enforce them on the leaders of the State of Israel.”


35,562 Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive since Oct. 7 — health ministry

35,562 Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive since Oct. 7 — health ministry
Updated 20 May 2024
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35,562 Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive since Oct. 7 — health ministry

35,562 Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive since Oct. 7 — health ministry
  • 106 Palestinians were killed and 176 injured in the past 24 hours

DUBAI: More than 35,562 Palestinians have been killed and 79,652 injured in the Israeli military offensive on Gaza since Oct. 7, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Monday.
One hundred and six Palestinians were killed and 176 injured in the past 24 hours, the ministry added.