Starving children in Gaza fill hospital wards as famine looms

Children are the most sufferers after being orphaned or displaced from Israeli bombings.

GAZA/GENEVA (Reuters): Six-year-old Fadi al-Zant is acutely malnourished, his ribs protruding under leathery skin, his eyes sunken as he lays in bed at the Kamal Adwan hospital in northern Gaza, where famine is bearing down.

Fadi’s spindly legs can no longer support him enough to walk.

Photographs of Fadi from before the war show a smiling, healthy-looking child, standing in blue denims next to his taller twin with his hair brushed. A short video clip shows him dancing at a wedding with a little girl.

Fadi suffers from cystic fibrosis. Before the conflict, he was taking medicine that his family can no longer find and eating a carefully balanced variety of food no longer available in the Palestinian enclave, according to his mother Shimaa al-Zant.

“His condition is getting worse. He is getting weaker. He keeps losing his ability to do things,” she said in a video obtained by Reuters from a freelancer. “He can no longer stand. When I help him stand up, he falls straight away.”

More than five months into Israel’s ground and air campaign, launched in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, there are widespread shortages of food, medicines and clean water in Gaza, doctors and aid agencies say.

The Kamal Adwan hospital, caring for Fadi, had also treated most of the 27 children the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says have died of malnutrition and dehydration in recent weeks.

Others died in Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital, also in the north, the ministry said, and in the southernmost city of Rafah, where the U.N. relief agency says over 1 million Palestinians have sought refuge from Israel’s offensive.

Reuters saw 10 badly malnourished children during a visit last week to the al-Awda health centre in Rafah, arranged with nursing staff who gave the news agency unimpeded access to the ward. Reuters was not able to independently verify the deaths reported by the ministry.

Without urgent action, famine will hit between now and May in northern Gaza, where 300,000 people are trapped by fighting, the world’s hunger watchdog, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), said in a review, opens new tab on Monday.

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