Transformed into a “skeleton”… A Palestinian child becomes “the face of famine in Gaza”

The photo of the child Yazan Kafarneh, who turned into a skeleton, became a warning about the deteriorating food situation in the Gaza Strip.

The child, Kafarna (10 years old), was photographed by Associated Press photographer Hatem Ali, with permission from his family, as he was struggling to stay alive after arriving at Rafah Hospital in southern Gaza on Sunday, and he soon died last Monday, according to a newspaper report. The New York Times.

Kafarna’s body and features were closer to a skeleton, as his pale skin stuck to his bones, after his flesh had shrunk and withered. The twisting of his body was a clear sign of cerebral palsy.

The newspaper said that the child had become “the face of famine” in Gaza. For weeks, relief organizations have been warning of deaths resulting from hunger, which have begun to become more apparent five months after the Israeli campaign against Gaza and the siege it imposes on the Strip, while UN officials confirm that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are on the verge of “starvation.”

Palestinian child Yazan Al-Kafarna

At least 20 Palestinian children died from malnutrition and dehydration, according to health officials in Gaza, who confirmed that the children, like Yazan, needed medicines that were not available, and many of those who died also suffered from serious health conditions, according to the newspaper.

Heather Stobo, a malnutrition expert at the relief organization Action Against Hunger, said: “Often the child suffers from severe malnutrition, then gets sick, and this virus is ultimately the cause of death,” adding that “they would not have died if they had not suffered.” From malnutrition.

Yazan’s parents struggled for months to care for their son, whose condition experts say meant he had difficulty swallowing and needed a soft, highly nutritious diet. After the Israeli bombing of Gaza following the Hamas-led attack on Israel on October 7, his parents fled their home, taking Yazan and their three other children to a place they hoped would be safer.

Then they ran away again and again, his father said, in search of a better place for Zen, whose condition meant he could not afford chaotic and unsanitary shelters. Every time they left was difficult, because Yazan was not able to walk.

His parents could do nothing but watch their son’s health gradually deteriorate. His father, Sharif Kafarneh, a 31-year-old taxi driver from Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, told the New York Times: “Day after day, I saw my son getting weaker.”

Eventually, they ended up back in the southern city of Rafah, where Yazan died on Monday morning. He was suffering from malnutrition and a respiratory infection, according to Dr. Jabr Al-Shaer, the pediatrician who treated him. Dr. Al-Shaer blamed the lack of food for weakening Yazan’s already weak immune system.

On March 4, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, quoted an organization team that visited two hospitals in the Gaza Strip as saying that children were dying of hunger in northern Gaza.

“When children start dying of hunger, it should be a warning like no other,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

He added, “If not now, when is the right time to do our best, declare a state of emergency, and flood Gaza with the aid it needs?”

The United Nations has warned that Gaza faces the risk of famine, citing “enormous obstacles” to the delivery and distribution of relief supplies across the Strip, according to Reuters.

Relief agencies called on Israel to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza and allow safe passage of relief convoys into the Strip.

Israel isolated northern Gaza from its south militarily early in the conflict and prevented people from moving between them. Aid convoys face difficulties in crossing Israeli checkpoints from south to north.

Israel said there was no cap on the amount of humanitarian aid provided to civilians in Gaza and blamed the slow delivery on the United Nations’ ability to distribute.

Most of the aid was coming by land through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, and since December, through the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel, but the pace of its entry is still very slow.

The United Nations complained of several obstacles it faces in entering and distributing supplies, including the closure of crossings, restrictions on movement and communications, arduous inspection procedures, disturbances, destroyed roads, and unexploded ordnance.

The Gaza Strip is facing a real humanitarian catastrophe months after the outbreak of war

Some countries, including the United States and Jordan, have begun airdrops of aid, although relief agencies say that airdrops provide much smaller quantities than what can be delivered by truck by land.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) estimates that about 1.7 million people, or more than 75 percent of the population, have been displaced inside Gaza, and many of them have been forced to move more than once.

Last month, Israel intensified its bombing of the city of Rafah, located in the south of the Gaza Strip on the border with Egypt, where about 1.5 million people are crowded.

United Nations agencies say that malnutrition rates among children in northern Gaza are “very high” and about three times higher than in the southern Palestinian Strip, where more aid is available.

The World Health Organization says most of the Strip’s 36 hospitals have stopped operating. She added that only 12 of these hospitals are partially functioning, six of which are in the north of the Gaza Strip and six in the south, while Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Yunis is operating at a minimum.

Richard Peppercorn, the World Health Organization’s representative in Gaza and the West Bank, said in early March that more than eight thousand people needed to be transferred out of Gaza to receive treatment.

Israel says Hamas diverts aid for its own benefit. Hamas denies this. It says that it has no role in the mission of distributing goods undertaken by the United Nations and the Red Crescent.

Egypt, the United States, and Qatar have been mediating truce negotiations since January. Only one previous agreement led to a week-long cessation of fighting in November, during which Hamas released more than 100 hostages while Israel released about three times that number of Palestinian prisoners.

The United States also said that the US military will build a temporary floating dock off the coast of Gaza to bring aid, but it does not plan to deploy US forces on the ground.

Five months after the start of the ongoing air and ground attack launched by Israel on Gaza, Palestinian health authorities said that nearly 31,000 Palestinians were killed and more than 72,500 others were injured, and it is feared that thousands more remain dead under the rubble.

The war broke out after Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel on October 7, which, according to Israeli statistics, led to the death of 1,200 people and the kidnapping of 253 hostages.

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