Media CenterCRS Warns of Life-Threatening Food Shortage in Gaza After Report Reveals Risk of Famine

Photo courtesy of Caritas Jerusalem

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Megan Gilbert
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(443) 825-3640

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, Dec. 21, 2023 – According to a new report, Gaza is facing catastrophic levels of hunger that could lead to famine in as little as three months, if no immediate action is taken. The report, issued by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), warns that the entire population of the Gaza Strip, about 2.2 million people, could soon experience crisis levels of food insecurity. This is the “highest share of people facing high levels of acute food insecurity” that the IPC initiative has ever classified for any given area or country.

“Even when I speak to our staff, they talk about not having enough food,” Cornelia Sage, Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) head of programs for Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza said. “They talk about rationing meals, about not having enough to eat for their children. They tell me about going out to look for food for their families only to come back empty-handed. All of Gaza is going hungry.”

The IPC is a tool used by the international community to classify the severity and magnitude of food insecurity and malnutrition. The IPC provides a scale, typically ranging from Phase 1 (minimal food insecurity) to Phase 5 (famine), to categorize the level of urgency and type of response needed. This system is important because it helps governments and humanitarian organizations like CRS identify areas in urgent need of food assistance to plan an effective response. According to the IPC’s report on Gaza, over 90% of the population is facing crisis levels of food insecurity. This means people are either not meeting their daily food needs or are only meeting them by selling their possessions.

“This situation playing out in Gaza is devastating,” Sage said. “We cannot let this continue. The fighting must stop, and we must get food aid, and other needed aid, into Gaza now. Millions of lives are at stake.”

CRS’ own assessment data shows that food is running out in Gaza.

“Store shelves are empty and have been empty for weeks,” Sage said. “There are informal markets, but people are paying five to 10 times more for basic food items, especially key staples such as flour, oil and drinking water. Without cooking gas or fuel, people cannot cook, and they are eating what they can find. There is simply not enough food coming in to feed the people of Gaza.”

The lack of proper food and clean water can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women and nursing mothers.

“My son is two months old,” one CRS staff member said. “The first days were so hard for me. I had no milk, and the stress was just so hard, my body couldn’t produce it. It was hard in the beginning of the war. But now? With the lack of water and the lack of food, it’s become a real problem. We don’t know how we are going to provide for ourselves.”

CRS continues to call for an immediate end to the violence and more humanitarian access to deliver life-saving aid. More food aid and additional border crossings into Gaza are needed to avoid people dying of starvation. Additionally, borders need to open for commercial business, so stores can once again be stocked with desperately needed supplies.

“Somehow there’s this fatalism that, if we die in the shelling, we die,” a CRS staffer in Gaza said during a brief phone call. “But a greater fear is, ‘How can I watch my child die from hunger in front of my eyes?’”


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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