The upcoming conference comes at a time of at least 2.2 million Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip battling the risk of famine, with many forced to eat animal fodder for survival.
Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) is preparing to host an international conference on food justice.
Under the auspices of Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, the event is set to take place on February 6 and 7.
According to Qatar News Agency (QNA), the NHRC is working cooperatively to organise the event along with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, the Office of the United Nations Development Programme, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the League of Arab States.
During a press conference on Sunday, the NHRC’s Vice Chairman, Mohammed bin Saif Al Kuwari, said the upcoming event will be centred on a human rights perspective to tackling global food justice.
He added that the event will serve as a platform for delegations to review and set new frameworks about food justice.
The NHRC’s Vice Chairman also said that 400 governmental and non-governmental representatives are expected to attend the conference.
A further 600 local experts, as well as human rights advocates and special rapporteurs from the United Nations will be attending.
Food insecurity in Gaza
According to the World Food Programme, as many as 783 million people worldwide don’t have access to enough food.
One of the leading causes of world hunger identified by humanitarian organisations was conflict.
“Sixty percent of the world’s hungry people live in zones affected by conflict, which is the main driver in 8 out of 10 of the worst hunger crises,” the WFP reported.
In the latest impact report on the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza, the UN’s humanitarian agency (UN OCHA) estimated that at least 2.2 million Palestinians in the enclave are facing an imminent risk of famine.
UN OCHA further added that the Strip’s northern governorates are completely cut off from freshwater supplies, while only just one out of the three water pipelines from Israel is functioning.
Many Palestinians in the besieged enclave have no choice but to eat animal fodder just to survive.
This matter will be on top of the agenda for next month’s food justice conference – especially regarding how to get much-needed aid to Palestinians in need.
Speaking to QNA, Qatar’s NHRC Vice Chairman said that, “the issue of food shortages in the Gaza Strip and blocking the delivery of food aid to the Palestinians who are in dire need of it as a result of the three-months-long war”.
Since Israel renewed its air, land and sea offensives against Gaza on October 7, Qatar has been at the forefront of mediation efforts and continues to work with friendly nations to bolster aid missions to the Strip.
Israel blocks aid missions
Qatar’s Minister of State for International Cooperation Lolwah Al Khater highlighted that Israel is failing in its obligation to ensure humanitarian sufficient aid reaches Gaza.
“According to the Fourth Geneva Convention Article 59, it is the obligation of the occupation power, in this case, it would be the Israeli occupation, to ensure adequate levels of aid supplies and aid schemes,” said Al Khater in an interview with the BCC.
“Unfortunately, this international obligation has not been met by Israel and has yet to be met,” the Qatari official added.
On January 10, during a virtual news conference held in Geneva on Wednesday, the Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, revealed that since December 26, six planned medical missions to northern Gaza had to be cancelled.
Despite the dire need for aid, Dr Ghebreyesus said that “delivering humanitarian aid in Gaza continues to face nearly insurmountable challenges.
“Intense bombardment, restrictions on movement, fuel shortages, and interrupted communications make it impossible for WHO and our partners to reach those in need,” he added.