Insan & Komuniti 13 Mar, 2024

Catatan Akademik| Spare a compassionate thought for Gaza during the Ramadan! Facing death and hunger!

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Pictures credit: FB MAPIM : Malaysian Consultative Council for Islamic Organization


International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)

The Gaza War has gone into its fifth month with more than 30,000 reportedly dead. As always, the majority were women and children, allegedly involving more civilians. It represents more than one percent of the total Gazan population.
Much of the remaining population have been forced to evacuate their homes while trying to escape from the indiscriminate bombing by the neighbouring forces of aggression. The situation is described as the worst humanitarian crisis in recent times: of killing, displacement, arrest, epidemics and death from hunger due to the inhuman aggression.
The International Women Day, March 8 for example, passed away very quickly given the Gaza’s Health Ministry statement pointing to “the silence of the international community has contributed to the genocide of Palestinian women.”
Adding that “60,000 pregnant women in Gaza suffer from malnutrition, dehydration and a lack of proper health care.”
Contrary to this year’s theme - ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress,' it is said that “the women in Gaza continue to endure this brutal war,” quoting UNRWA. "At least 9,000 women have been killed, since Israel launched its genocidal assault on the besieged  enclave. Many more are under the rubble,” the agency continues.  

Around the corner is Ramadan, the Muslim holiest month that all Muslims look forward to in search of peace and solace. It is also the time of reflection and endurance to deepen the translation of justice and equality by empathising with the disenfranchised and marginalised. 
This is very ironic that the Gazans have been made to suffer more than their fair share of such a grim experience. Indeed, none of our fasting this time around can match what has befallen on them long before the Ramadan.
And their situation continues to worsen as the holy month approaches after the last five months. Dire starvation amidst the acute shortage of food and viable support systems is threatening survival in genocidal ways. 
Reportedly, the looming famine in Gaza, where desperate residents have taken to eating slaughtered horses and even leaves say it all.
This becomes even bleaker when emergency relief from a 14-truck food convoy – the first by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) came since it paused deliveries to northern Gaza on 20 February – was turned back by the Israeli Defence Force after a three-hour wait at the Wadi Gaza checkpoint.
Although today’s convoy did not make it to the north to provide food to the people who are starving, regardless, WFP continues to explore every possible means to do so according to its Deputy Executive Director.
But WFP further warned that hunger has reached catastrophic levels in the north, where children are dying of hunger-related diseases and suffering severe levels of malnutrition. 

A massive relief operation requires more entry points into Gaza, including from the north, and the use of Israel's Ashdod port, it said, reiterating the need for an urgent ceasefire to enable such an operation.
In addition, the UN spokesperson said that humanitarian personnel working on water, sanitation and hygiene in the enclave are reporting extremely challenging conditions amid high levels of displacement and overcrowding in shelters.
Going by their latest assessment, some 340 people are sharing a single toilet, there is one shower for roughly 1,300 people on average, and over 80 percent of households in Gaza lack safe and clean water, as expressed at a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York of late.
In response, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been providing fuel to operate public and private water wells and desalination plants. The agency has also delivered more than 50 emergency health kits for more than half a million people and enough newborn kits for 8,700 infants.
The agency also stressed that road routes are the only option to transport large quantities of food needed to avert famine in northern Gaza. Earlier, with the help of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, six tonnes of WFP food supplies for about 20,000 people were dropped for civilians surviving in the north.
Seemingly, airdrops are a last resort and will not avert famine. What is needed are “entry points to northern Gaza that will allow us to deliver enough food for half a million people in desperate need,” the agency is quick to add.

Pictures credit: FB MAPIM : Malaysian Consultative Council for Islamic Organization

In summary, as the spirit of Ramadan is widely shared across the world, and practised by the Muslims, the thoughts of many are with Gazans and what is left of the devastated overcrowded, now less liveable narrow strip of land. Not forgetting the neighbouring countries from Lebanon to the seas off Yemen.
For Malaysia, in particular, we must count our blessings at every moment of the Ramadan, be grateful for the little we have. Because it is certainly many times more than whatever the people of Gaza are faced with “of killing, displacement, arrest, miscarriage, epidemics and death from hunger as a result of the Israeli aggression.”
Dzulkifli Abdul Razak is the Rector, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). This article is the author's personal opinion.

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