Risk of famine still present in Gaza: WHO

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Geneva, May 3 (IANS/DPA) The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that the threat of famine still hangs over the war-torn Gaza Strip.

More food has reached the Gaza Strip in recent weeks, but the WHO's representative to the Palestinian territories, Rik Peeperkorn, said the risk of famine has not yet been averted.

The coastal strip has been under attack from the Israeli military for more than six months since Hamas launched bloody attacks on Israel on October 7.

The WHO reported that more than 40 severely malnourished children under the age of five have been brought to hospitals in the Gaza Strip with additional health problems since March.

Some 2-year-olds weighed only around 4 kilograms, far under the average weight of 10 to 14 kilograms.

Before the outbreak of fighting in October, malnutrition was practically non-existent in the territory.

The consequences of childhood malnutrition will be far-ranging, said Peeperkorn. "We will see the effects for years to come," he added.

Ahmed Dahir, the WHO's top doctor in Gaza, told reporters in Geneva via video link that the supply of food was still fragile and that he "cannot say the risk of famine is past."

According to Palestinian health authorities, a total of around 25 malnourished children have died in the territory in recent weeks.

Peeperkorn emphasised that the children had not starved to death, but that malnutrition had contributed to the complications that ultimately led to their deaths.

The information provided by the Palestinian authorities cannot be independently verified, but UN officials have previously considered their estimates to be reliable.