NewsTop U.N. Official Cindy McCain Says Northern Gaza Is Now In 'Full-Blown...

Top U.N. Official Cindy McCain Says Northern Gaza Is Now In ‘Full-Blown Famine’

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top U.N. official said Friday that hard-hit northern Gaza was now in “full-blown famine” after more than six months of war between Israel and Hamas and severe Israeli restrictions on food deliveries to the Palestinian territory.

Cindy McCain, the American director of the U.N. World Food Program, became the most prominent international official so far to declare that trapped civilians in the most cut-off part of Gaza had gone over the brink into famine.

“It’s horror,” McCain told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview to air Sunday. “There is famine — full-blown famine — in the north, and it’s moving its way south.”

She said a cease-fire and a greatly increased flow of aid through land and sea routes was essential to confronting the growing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, home to 2.3 million people.

There was no immediate comment from Israel, which controls entrance into Gaza and says it is beginning to allow in more food and other humanitarian aid through land crossings.

The panel that serves as the internationally recognized monitor for food crises said in March that northern Gaza was on the brink of famine and likely to experience it in May. Since March, northern Gaza had not received anything like the aid needed to stave off famine, a U.S. Agency for International Development humanitarian official for Gaza told The Associated Press. The panel’s next update will not come before this summer.

The USAID official said on-the-ground preparations for a new U.S.-led sea route were on track to bring in more food — including treatment for hundreds of thousands of starving children — by early or mid-May. That’s when the American military expects to finish building a floating pier to receive the shipments.

In this image provided by the U.S. Army, soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) and sailors attached to the MV Roy P. Benavidez assemble the Roll-On, Roll-Off Distribution Facility (RRDF), or floating pier, off the shore of Gaza in the Mediterranean Sea on April 26, 2024. The pier is part of the Army's Joint Logistics Over The Shore (JLOTS) system which provides critical bridging and water access capabilities. (U.S. Army via AP)In this image provided by the U.S. Army, soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) and sailors attached to the MV Roy P. Benavidez assemble the Roll-On, Roll-Off Distribution Facility (RRDF), or floating pier, off the shore of Gaza in the Mediterranean Sea on April 26, 2024. The pier is part of the Army’s Joint Logistics Over The Shore (JLOTS) system which provides critical bridging and water access capabilities. (U.S. Army via AP)

via Associated Press

Ramping up the delivery of aid on the planned U.S.-backed sea route will be gradual as aid groups test the distribution and security arrangements for relief workers, the USAID official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing security concerns accompanying the official’s work on conflicts. They were some of the agency’s first comments on the status of preparations for the Biden administration’s $320 million Gaza pier project, for which USAID is helping coordinate on-the-ground security and distribution.

At a factory in rural Georgia on Friday, USAID Administrator Samantha Power pointed to the food crises in Gaza and other parts of the world as she announced a $200 million investment aimed at increasing production of emergency nutritional paste for starving children under 5.

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