UN agency says ‘famine is imminent’ in northern Gaza, which Israel has largely isolated for months

RAFAH, Mar 18: The UN food agency says “famine is imminent” in northern Gaza, where an estimated 70% of the population faces catastrophic hunger.
The World Food Program on Monday released the latest findings of its Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, or IPC, an international process for estimating the scale of hunger crises.
It says virtually everyone in Gaza is struggling to get enough food, and around 210,000 people in northern Gaza are in Phase 5, the highest, which refers to catastrophic hunger.
It warned that if Israel broadens its offensive to the packed southern city of Rafah, the fighting could drive around half of Gaza’s total population of 2.3 million into catastrophic hunger.
In December, the IPC estimated that a quarter of Gaza’s overall population was starving.
Aid groups say they face a burdensome Israeli process to import humanitarian aid, and that distribution in much of Gaza, especially the north, is virtually impossible because of Israeli restrictions, ongoing hostilities and the breakdown of law and order.
Israel says it places no limits on the import of humanitarian aid and blames bottlenecks on the U.N. Agencies distributing it.
The U.S. And other countries have carried out airdrops in recent days and a sea corridor has just opened up. But aid groups say those efforts are costly and inefficient, and are no substitute for Israel opening up more land routes. (AP)