Middle East

90 percent of children in Gaza are suffering severe food poverty, UNICEF says

From CNN staff

Nine out of 10 children in Gaza are suffering from severe food poverty, unable to access enough food groups to sustain optimal growth and development, according to a new report from the United Nations’ children’s agency.

“In the Gaza Strip, months of hostilities and restrictions on humanitarian aid have collapsed the food and health systems, resulting in catastrophic consequences for children and their families,” UNICEF said Wednesday in a statement. 

Fighting across the strip has “destroyed farmland, left livestock starving, decimated the fishing fleet, and damaged food processing and warehouse facilities,” the report found.

These factors, combined with the shuttered routes of global aid that normally would supply the strip, have “deprived millions,” it said.

UNICEF said five rounds of data collected between December 2023 and April 2024 have “consistently found” that nine out of 10 children are surviving on two or fewer food groups per day.

Worldwide problem: The report, which looks at child food poverty globally, found one in four children worldwide live in severe food poverty in early childhood, amounting to 181 million children under 5 years old.

This makes them up to 50 percent more likely to experience wasting, a life-threatening form of malnutrition, the report says.

“Children living in severe food poverty are children living on the brink. Right now, that is the reality for millions of young children, and this can have an irreversible negative impact on their survival, growth and brain development,” said UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell.

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