People in northern Gaza forced to survive on 245 calories a day, less than a can of beans – Oxfam

Humanitarian Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 04 Apr 2024

Miniscule amount is less than 12% of average daily calorie needs 

People in northern Gaza have been forced to survive on an average of 245 calories (1025 kilojoules) a day – less than a can of beans – since January, as Israeli forces continue their military onslaught. Over 300,000 people are believed to still be trapped there, unable to leave. 

The miniscule amount of food represents less than 12 per cent of the recommended daily 2,100 calorie intake needed per person, calculated using demographic data considering variations by age and gender. Last week, the Israeli government told UNRWA, by far the largest aid provider in Gaza, that its convoys would no longer be allowed into the north.

Oxfam’s analysis is based on the latest available data used in the recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis for the Gaza Strip. Oxfam also found that the total food deliveries allowed into Gaza for the entire 2.2 million population – since last October – amounted to an average of just 41 per cent of the daily calories needed per person.  

The Israeli government has known for nearly two decades exactly how many daily calories are needed to prevent malnutrition in Gaza, calculating this according to both age and gender within its Food Consumption in the Gaza Strip – Red Line document. Not only did it use a higher calculation of 2,279 calories per person, it also took into account domestic food production in Gaza, which the Israeli military has now virtually obliterated.  

A mother trapped in northern Gaza said: “Before the war, we were in good health and had strong bodies. Now, looking at my children and myself, we have lost so much weight since we do not eat any proper food, we are trying to eat whatever we find – edible wild plants or herbs daily just to survive.” 

Oxfam also found that less than half the number of food trucks needed to reach the daily 2,100 calories intake for everyone are currently entering Gaza. Using IPC and UNRWA data, Oxfam’s analysis found that an absolute minimum of 221 trucks of food alone are needed every day, not accounting for wastage or unequal distribution. Currently just 105 trucks of food are entering Gaza daily on average. 

The IPC report found that famine is imminent in northern Gaza and that almost all the population is now experiencing extreme hunger; with 1.1 million people experiencing catastrophic food insecurity. Horrifyingly, children are already dying from starvation and malnutrition, often worsened by disease.  

Hunger and its impacts are exacerbated by the near-complete destruction of civilian infrastructure including hospitals, water and sanitation services and community health support by Israel, leaving people even more vulnerable to disease. In addition to the limited availability of food, the ability to find or buy a nutritious, varied diet is not feasible across Gaza.  For the little fruit and vegetables still available, extreme price rises due to scarcity have put them out of reach for most people. Specialised nutrition products and centres to treat malnourished children are also difficult or impossible to find. 

Lyn Morgain, Oxfam Australia Chief Executive said: “Israel is making deliberate choices to starve civilians. Imagine what it is like, not only to be trying to survive on 245 calories day in, day out, but also having to watch your children or elderly relatives do the same. All whilst displaced, with little to no access to clean water or a toilet, knowing most medical support has gone and under the constant threat of drones and bombs.  

“Israel is ignoring both the International Court of Justice order to prevent genocide and UN Security Council resolutions. Only last week the ICJ ordered new provisional measures, stating famine is no longer looming, but ‘setting in’ in Gaza.  All countries need to immediately stop supplying arms to Israel and do all they can to secure an immediate and permanent ceasefire; only then can we stop this horrifying carnage for the 2.2 million people who have endured six months of suffering. Israel cannot weaponize starvation any longer.”   

Oxfam is calling for a permanent ceasefire, the return of all hostages and the release of unlawfully detained Palestinian prisoners, for countries to immediately stop supplying arms to Israel and for full humanitarian aid access. The global response for Gaza must include both adequate and nutritious food for everyone, the full restoration of hospitals and health services, water, and sanitation infrastructure and for all reconstruction materials to be allowed across the border. 

For interviews, contact Lucy Brown on 0478 190 099 /