February 23, 2024

UNICEF says nutrition needs of children and pregnant women are unmet in Gaza

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The Associated Press

JERUSALEM — The U.N. children’s agency says most young children and pregnant women in the Gaza Strip are not able to meet their basic nutrition needs.

Only a trickle of humanitarian aid has entered the Palestinian territory Oct. 7, when Hamas’ deadly attack into southern Israel ignited the war. Fewer than 200 aid trucks enter each day, less than half the prewar level, and aid groups say the fighting hinders distribution.

A survey by UNICEF released Friday found that 90% of children under age 2 are eating two or fewer food groups each day, mainly bread or milk. A quarter of pregnant women said they only eat from one food group per day.

U.N. officials previously said that one in four Gazans were enduring famine-like levels of starvation.

UNICEF says cases of diarrhea among children under 5 have risen from 48,000 to 71,000, an indication of poor nutrition. Normally, only 2,000 cases of diarrhea are reported each month in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli authorities say there is enough food in the territory, and that they have taken the necessary steps to allow aid in, blaming any shortages on U.N. bodies.

U.N. officials say aid operations are hindered by the Israeli inspections, as well as fighting and road closures within the territory, and have long been calling for a humanitarian cease-fire.

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