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Why Sudan and Gaza Are at Risk of Famine

Sudan and Gaza at Risk of Famine.

Millions Face Starvation in Gaza, UN Warns of Potential Famine in Sudan.

When Does a state enter into Famine?

  • Severity: Famine represents the most extreme state of hunger, with widespread food shortages leading to malnutrition, starvation, and death.
  • Declaration: The UN, often collaborating with governments and humanitarian organizations, officially declares a famine based on specific criteria.
  • Measurement: The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a UN tool that helps assess the severity of food insecurity and identify areas on the brink of famine.

The IPC uses five phases to rank a country’s food insecurity, with Phase 5 representing the most dire situation: famine. Declaring a famine requires three critical factors to be met within a specific area:

  • Severe Food Deprivation: At least 20% of households lack basic access to food.
  • Rampant Malnutrition: At least 30% of children suffer from acute malnutrition, a life-threatening condition.
  • High Mortality Rates: Daily deaths due to starvation or malnutrition-related illnesses reach a staggering level of two adults or four children per 10,000 people.

These criteria go beyond food shortages, highlighting the devastating impact on people’s health and survival.

Gaza and Sudan at Risk of Famine.

According to the UN, famine is imminent in northern Gaza, and could occur any time between March and May 2024. It follows months of conflict between Israel and Gaza after the 7 October Hamas attacks.
Half the population – about 1.1m people – are starving, according to the IPC classification. In the worst-case scenario, the entire population of Gaza will be in famine by July 2024.

The United Nations stated that Gaza has the highest proportion of individuals experiencing severe levels of acute food insecurity ever recorded by the IPC initiative for any specific area or nation.

The entire population of Gaza is confronting acute hunger, according to the United States.

Gaza is on the brink of famine during Ramadan, the sacred month of fasting.

In other regions, United Nations officials cautioned that the continuous conflict in Sudan has plunged the nation into “one of the most severe humanitarian crises in recent memory,” which could lead to the largest hunger crisis globally.

As per the World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations, approximately 18 million individuals in Sudan are experiencing acute food insecurity due to the civil conflict that erupted in April 2023.

Unicef reported witnessing malnutrition among young children that surpassed the worst projections, along with outbreaks of cholera, measles, and malaria.

Other Nations at Risk of Famine.

The humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger stated that several other countries are also experiencing “very concerning levels of hunger.” These countries include Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

In March 2024, the World Food Programme (WFP) issued a warning that Haiti, amid a severe political and economic crisis exacerbated by escalating gang violence, was teetering on the brink of a devastating hunger crisis.

Roughly 1.4 million individuals in Haiti are classified as being on the brink of famine, with an additional three million at the level just below. The description provided by the IPC of Haiti’s food security situation is deemed “alarming.”

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What Causes a Famine?

According to the IPC, famine and extreme food crises stem from various causes, including those that are man-made, driven by nature, or a combination of both.

Action Against Hunger stated that conflict remains the primary driver of hunger globally.

In Sudan, it attributed the scarcity of food production and subsequent high prices to the ongoing war.

Additionally, it highlighted that the ongoing conflict in Gaza was impeding the entry of life-saving food, fuel, and water into the territory.

The IPC emphasized the “near-complete lack of access” for humanitarian organizations to northern Gaza.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) pointed out that drought and crop failures resulting from extreme weather events linked to climate change were causing widespread food shortages, especially in East Africa.

El Niño, a climate phenomenon characterized by abnormal warming of surface waters in the Pacific Ocean, has already affected food supplies in Southeast Asia and Latin America.

The declaration of famine does not unlock specific funding.

However, it often triggers a large international response from other UN agencies and international governments, who can provide food supplies and emergency funding

Humanitarian agencies such as the IRC offer malnutrition treatments, while Oxfam collaborates with partners in Gaza to distribute vouchers and cash for food and hygiene items.

In Sudan, the WFP is engaged in restoring infrastructure like roads and schools. Additionally, it operates mobile response teams that venture into remote areas to provide food and other forms of assistance.

Many agencies usually begin planning and delivering aid even before a famine is officially declared, often when a country has been classified as phase three or higher, to mitigate the most severe impacts.

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