UN food agency warns of 'catastrophic levels of hunger' in southern Gaza

The United Nations' food agency has called for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict in Gaza, saying that catastrophic levels of hunger may develop soon in the southern part of the territory.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is deteriorating as fierce fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas continues, while negotiations for a ceasefire and the release of hostages are making slow progress.

On Saturday, a local Palestinian media outlet cited medical sources saying that 19 people were killed in an attack on homes in northern Gaza. Gaza health authorities said on Friday that 37,266 people have died since the conflict began in October last year.

World Food Programme Deputy Executive Director Carl Skau spoke at the end of his mission to Gaza. He said people there told him that they need sanitation, basic health care and some level of dignity, and that everyone he spoke to wants a ceasefire.

He said escalating fighting in some parts of Gaza, including Rafah in the south, makes it nearly impossible for humanitarian operations to deliver desperately needed food aid. He also mentioned the fear of extreme hunger.

The United States Central Command has announced that a temporary pier used to deliver aid to Gaza through the maritime corridor will be temporarily removed due to high seas. It added that the pier will be re-anchored to the shore and aid supplies will resume after the weather improves.