Gaza faces famine during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting

When dawn broke last Monday morning, signalling the beginning of Ramadan, it brought a cruel irony for the people of Gaza.

The holy month, when Muslims fast during daylight, had arrived amid a looming famine.

Gazans had already endured five months of war. Virtually the entire population was already dependent on food aid to survive.

“The people here have already been fasting for months,” said Dr Amjad Eleiwa, the deputy director of the emergency department at al-Shifa hospital, Gaza City.

“They scour the city looking for food to survive, but they cannot find any.”

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, in response to the Hamas attacks of 7 October, has destroyed food infrastructure and farmland across the territory. Aid agencies say enhanced Israeli security checks on delivery trucks have created bottlenecks around aid reaching the population.

The global body responsible for declaring famine, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), reported this Monday that 1.1 million people – virtually half the population of Gaza – was already starving and the rest of the people there could be in a famine by July.

The food crisis is most acute in northern Gaza. Unlike previous Ramadans, residents there cannot rely this year on lining their stomachs with suhoor, the pre-dawn breakfast, nor look forward to assuaging their hunger with iftar, the post-sunset meal.

Street decorations, drummers and stalls loaded with treats have been replaced by destruction, death and a daily fight to find food. Prices for what little flour or wheat is available have risen five-fold.

“I remember the last Ramadan, there was good food – juices, dates, milk, everything you could want,” said Nadia Abu Nahel, a 57-year-old mother caring for an extended family of 10 children in Gaza City.

“Compared to this year, it is like heaven and hell,” she said. “The children now are craving a loaf of bread, it is a meal they dream of. Their bones are becoming softer. They are dizzy, they struggle to walk. They are becoming very thin.”

Source: BBC

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