Hungry In Gaza

There are ?no bloated bellies to shock the world into action,?
reports Peter Hansen, commissioner general of the U.N. Relief and
Works Agency (UNRWA), in a Guardian analysis. For the
hungry in Gaza, there are no ?hollow cheeks and distended stomachs
of an African famine.? Nevertheless, the people of Gaza are
starving, and unlike the drought-induced famine of Africa, the
hunger is entirely manmade, resulting from 30 months of

The statistics are astounding. Of the 150,000 Palestinians who
?once depended on jobs in Israel for their livelihood,? less than
10 percent are allowed to leave the occupied territories. ?Anyone
with an income or a cousin working abroad supports as many as seven
other adults,? writes Hansen. Nearly 25 percent of Palestinian
children suffer from ?acute or chronic malnutrition.? Their immune
systems are compromised by ?inadequate iron and zinc intake.? More
than half of the children don?t get enough to eat. Pregnant mothers
and their babies have anemia and are deprived of protein and folic

Prior to the Intifada, 11,000 families living in Gaza and the
West Bank received food from UNRWA. In the last two years, the
program has grown to 220,000?nearly half of the entire Palestinian
population. With 1.3 million recipients world wide, UNRWA is no
longer able to meet the demand for food. The organization has
turned to the international community for support, requesting $32
million to cover emergency operations for the first half of 2003.
To date, about $1.5 million has been received. Sadly, the need for
aid in Afghanistan and Africa, and humanitarian concerns about an
impending invasion of Iraq ?seem to be holding donors back from
making pledges to our emergency fund,? Hansen notes.
Erin Ferdinand

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