WHO: Maternal malnutrition is causing more babies in the Gaza Strip to be born with low birth weights

ВОЗ: из-за недоедания матерей все больше детей в секторе Газа рождаются с низким весом

A girl stands outside her temporary shelter in Rafah, Gaza. WHO: Maternal malnutrition is causing more babies in the Gaza Strip to be born with low birth weights Peace and security

UN aid workers on Tuesday reiterated their commitment to support the people of Gaza, where more children are “on the brink of death” due to severe malnutrition as a result of five months of fighting and access restrictions for help.

“Doctors and medical staff tell us that they are increasingly seeing the effects of hunger. They are seeing newborn babies die because they are too low at birth,” said Margaret Harris of the World Health Organization (WHO) after new data was released yesterday showing widespread hunger may attack in the north of Gaza in the near future.

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Mass famine

Commenting on the findings of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IFSI) report on Gaza, published on Monday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk stressed that hunger and malnutrition among the residents of the strip are the result of “Israeli restrictions on the import and distribution of humanitarian aid and commercial goods,” as well as mass displacement and destruction of civilian infrastructure.

Turk noted that due to the desperate situation, families from the northern areas are sending their children to the south of Gaza unaccompanied hope that there they can find food and support among the 1.8 million people already sheltering in the southern regions.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday again appealed to Israeli authorities with a call to “ensure full and unhindered access” to humanitarian assistance throughout the enclave. Guterres also called on the international community to “fully support” the UN’s humanitarian efforts.

The UN chief called the IPC report a “horrific indictment” of the living conditions of civilians.

Risks to pregnant women and newborns

According to WHO, chronic hunger is most dangerous for infants and young children. The enclave’s medical teams are increasingly seeing dangerously low-weight pregnant women, the organization said. The Gaza famine is a direct consequence of the war that began in response to the Hamas attacks in Israel on October 7.

“Everything we see from a medical point of view is the result of human actions,” said a WHO spokeswoman. According to her, previously there was practically no malnutrition in Gaza, and the population could feed itself.

Nutrition support centers

WHO is currently working to open specialized centers in the sector to combat hunger. However, these plans have been hampered by security conditions and ongoing restrictions on access to assistance, Harris said.

She noted that WHO has already opened such a center in the south of Gaza and is now considering the possibility of doing so in the north, but the organization faces difficulties in transporting goods due to access problems and security.

Harris also stressed that Gazans are desperate and need help “on a massive scale.” According to the WHO representative, progress will not be made until hostilities cease.

Job losses

The war has led to the loss of 507,000 jobs throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, according to a new report from the International Labor Organization (ILO).

New data from the ILO and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics , as of January 31, the Gaza Strip had lost some 201,000 jobs, about two-thirds of the enclave’s total employment.

In addition, 306,000 workers seats, or more than a third of the total, were lost in the West Bank, where economic conditions have also been severely affected.

The situation has already had a “devastating impact” on the regional economy, it said ILO spokeswoman Zeina Awad, adding that if the conflict continues, the unemployment rate in the Palestinian territory is projected to reach 57 percent.

UNRWA investigation results

On Tuesday, the UN chief will hear the interim findings of one of two investigations into UNRWA following serious allegations that some of the agency’s employees collaborated with Hamas during the October 7 attacks on Israel.

UNRWA immediately terminated the contracts of 10 of the 12 staff members against whom charges were brought, and two others were confirmed dead.

“Any UN staff member involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution,” UNRWA said in a statement.

The UN chief is scheduled to meet with former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, who heads the UNRWA Independent Review Panel. The group began its work on February 14 with the assistance of three research organizations: the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden, the Christian Michelsen Institute in Norway and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

The final report is expected to be ready by the end of April. It will be published publicly.

The UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) is conducting a separate administrative investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct, including a review of the alleged violations regulations, rules and codes of conduct for UN personnel. A report containing the results of this investigation will also be submitted to the UN Secretary-General.


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