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UN agency halting food deliveries to northern Gaza, citing increasing chaos

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The United Nations’s World Food Program (WFP) said Tuesday it is pausing deliveries to northern Gaza due to the inability to ensure the safety and security of its staff, a move likely to compound starvation amid Israel’s war on the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

“The decision to pause deliveries to the north of the Gaza Strip has not been taken lightly, as we know it means the situation there will deteriorate further and more people risk dying of hunger,” a news release from the WFP reads.

“WFP is deeply committed to urgently reaching desperate people across Gaza but the safety and security to deliver critical food aid — and for the people receiving it — must be ensured,” the release continued.

Another United Nations agency, UNICEF, published a study this week that found 1 in 6 children younger than 2 years old in northern Gaza are malnourished. Three percent of that group are experiencing wasting, which means being severely underweight for their age and height.

The WFP said it resumed deliveries Sunday following a three-week suspension due to a strike on a U.N. relief truck and “the absence of a functioning humanitarian notification system.”

The agency said it was sending 10 trucks with food each day for a week in an attempt to “stem the tide of hunger and desperation and to begin building trust in communities that there would be enough food for all.”

But as it started on its route to Gaza City, “the convoy was surrounded by crowds of hungry people close to the Wadi Gaza checkpoint.”

“First fending off multiple attempts by people trying to climb aboard our trucks, then facing gunfire once we entered Gaza City, our team was able to distribute a small quantity of the food along the way,” the WFP’s release said. “On Monday, the second convoy’s journey north faced complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order.”

“Several trucks were looted between Khan Younes and Deir al Balah and a truck driver was beaten,” it added. “The remaining flour was spontaneously distributed off the trucks in Gaza City, amidst high tension and explosive anger.”

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