Here's what to know about the hunger crisis in Gaza

Since 2004, when the system was established, two famines, according to this definition, have occurred. In 2011, the IPC declared famine in parts of Somalia, which had endured decades of conflict. Years of drought have destroyed the agricultural sector and the economy, forcing many people to leave their homes in search of food. At the same time, a group of Islamic rebels blocked the escape of starving people and forced Western humanitarian organizations to abandon them. In all, around 250,000 people died.

Six years later, famine was declared in parts of South Sudan. The country had suffered years of drought, but the UN said the famine was man-made. Millions of people had fled a civil war that was destroying the country's economy, and rebel forces and government soldiers had blocked aid and seized food trucks. Tens of thousands of people died.

Gaza is only 25 miles long and largely urban, and there is no shortage of food on the other side of its borders, with Israel and Egypt.

However, aid agencies have found it difficult to carry out their work. Six months of war have resulted in the killing of dozens of aid workers, including seven from World Central Kitchen, the aid group founded by chef José Andrés. Those employees were killed by an Israeli drone strike on April 1 after delivering tons of food to a warehouse.

There is strong disagreement in Gaza between the United Nations and the Israeli government over how much aid reaches Gaza each day, but aid organizations say they need better access, particularly in northern Gaza. Israeli authorities have repeatedly denied permission for humanitarian convoys to move inside Gaza, they say.

Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Programme, said what made the situation in Gaza so shocking was the scale and severity of the crisis and how quickly it developed.

Critics of the way Israel is waging the war say the food crisis stems largely from Israeli restrictions on truck entry and a burdensome inspection process. Some have accused Israel of slowing aid to punish Gazans for the Oct. 7 attack.

Israeli officials say they have placed no limits on the amount of aid that can flow into Gaza. They blame the United Nations, particularly UNRWA, the main agency helping the Palestinians, for failing to distribute aid effectively.

COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for coordinating aid deliveries to Gaza, says it has “increased” deliveries in recent days and is opening an additional entry point in northern Gaza. More generally, the Israeli government holds Hamas responsible for all the suffering of civilians in Gaza. (UNRWA said last month that Israel had denied the group access to northern Gaza, although Israel has refuted that claim.)

Governments around the world have urged Israel to quickly address the crisis. President Biden warned last week that the United States could withhold support from Israel if it did not ensure adequate aid deliveries and protect civilians. On Wednesday, Biden said the steps Israel has taken since then are “not enough.”

Adam Sella contributed to the reporting.

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