Statement From World Food Program USA President and CEO on Ongoing Conflict in Gaza
Washington, D.C. (January 25, 2024) – With the first month of 2024 coming to a close, I want to take this moment to reaffirm my commitment to the people of Gaza, and to people in conflict zones facing hunger around the world. Their struggle, tragically, continues and so must our efforts.
Following the horrific violence on October 7, and through the 100 plus days that have followed, far too many futures have been cut short. In Gaza alone, more than 25,000 individuals have been killed. We mourn all the lives lost, including those suffered by United Nations staff, who are working around the clock under extreme duress while risking their lives and losing family members and loved ones.
Those surviving are facing extreme conditions. Virtually all people in Gaza are skipping meals every day, with many adults going hungry so children can eat. Extreme hunger weakens people’s immune systems and makes them vulnerable to diseases, which are already rampant in overcrowded shelters. According to the latest reports, a quarter of Gaza’s population – more than half a million people – are starving. This is truly a crisis of unrivaled proportions; the risk of famine increases each day.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has been delivering food inside Gaza every day since October 7, reaching more than 1.4 million people. Despite severe operational challenges, our colleagues and partners on the ground have been finding new ways to feed people, helping bakeries get back up and running, piloting new routes for goods from Jordan, and distributing special food supplements to help children fight off malnutrition. However, as Executive Director Cindy McCain has stated repeatedly, it is simply not enough.
To date, World Food Program USA and its supporters have raised over $8 million in direct support for people in Gaza. Including small donations from young people to larger gifts from corporate donors, we have seen an outpouring of support, and we don’t intend to let this crisis fade into memory. Not only through the end of this conflict, but well beyond, we will do everything we can to support efforts to feed, rebuild and call for a lasting peace.
Sadly, we will soon mark the anniversaries of a number of other conflicts that have also ravaged communities and pushed millions of people into hunger. Later next month will mark two years of gruesome conflict in Ukraine. The following month we’ll reach 13 years of devastating war in Syria. And in April, should hostilities continue, we will have seen a full year of conflict in Sudan, home of the largest displacement crisis in the world, with 7.7 million people forced to leave their homes.
War is a scourge on society and the biggest obstacle in reaching a zero hunger world. As the President and CEO of World Food Program USA, with the people of Gaza slipping closer to famine each day, I reiterate my call for a humanitarian ceasefire to prevent further suffering and death in both Gaza and Israel. This call to action is for safe, unimpeded and sustained passage for humanitarian aid, and the adherence to international law on all sides. It is time to prioritize peace and let the humanitarian community take over – feeding, healing, and supporting the everyday people caught up in this violence.