Thursday Briefing: U.N. Warns of Famine in Gaza

At least a quarter of Gaza’s population is “one step away from famine,” a U.N. humanitarian aid official told the Security Council yesterday. Aid groups say that people are so hungry they are resorting to eating leaves, donkey feed and food scraps.

In northern Gaza, one in six children under the age of 2 is suffering from acute malnutrition, the official, Ramesh Rajasingham, said. The U.N. has not been able to deliver any aid to the region since early this month, it said, because of security risks and Israeli restrictions.

The fighting, damage from the war and Israeli restrictions on essential goods entering Gaza have decimated the territory’s ability to feed itself through farming, livestock and fishing, Rajasingham said.

Data: A new World Bank report found that the enclave’s economic output shrank by over 80 percent in the last quarter of 2023, calling it “one of the largest economic shocks ever recorded in recent history.” Up to 96 percent of Gaza’s agricultural infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, and about 80 percent of the population has lost its jobs. In the short term, “every resident of Gaza will live in poverty,” the report said.

Cease-fire talks: Hamas’s political leader said the group was being flexible, but was prepared to continue the war. The president of Egypt said that a truce could be reached “in the next few days.”

President Biden and Donald Trump both won their primaries in Michigan on Tuesday.

Perhaps the day’s biggest takeaway was that a movement urging Democrats to vote “uncommitted” rather than for Biden succeeded in grabbing his attention. The effort, which was meant to pressure Biden to call for an unconditional cease-fire in Gaza, helped draw 13 percent of the vote. While that figure paled next to Biden’s 81 percent, it surprised his campaign. Until this week, the president’s team hadn’t anticipated the strength of apparent anti-Biden sentiment among Michigan Democrats, especially after he cruised through the first two primaries in South Carolina and Nevada.

The movement is now likely to spread to other states, many of which have an option for voters to choose “uncommitted” or “no preference” in their primaries.

Goo Hara was one of South Korea’s most popular musical artists, finding international fame with the K-pop girl group Kara. But with celebrity came vicious attacks on social media from a Korean public that is just as quick to criticize stars as it is to fawn over them. Commenters targeted her looks, personality and sex life.

Goo died by suicide in November 2019 at the age of 28. My colleagues Motoko Rich and John Yoon explored Goo’s struggles in South Korea’s entertainment industry.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, go to for a list of resources. In South Korea, call 109 for the Health Ministry’s suicide prevention hotline, or go to the Korean-language site In Japan, contact TELL Lifeline at 03-5774-0992 or, or go to the Japanese-language site

It’s Leap Day, Feb. 29, the extra day that we add to the calendar every four years to account for Earth’s imperfect rotation. The chances of being born on Feb. 29 are 1 in 1,461, and my colleague Remy Tumin is one of that small number. She’s here to tell you all about the calendar quirk.

For the writer Leslie Jamison, keeping a notebook of every time she said “no” to something helped her realize what mattered most.

When she declined something — be it a speaking gig, a magazine commission or an invitation from a friend — she wrote down the opportunity and then drew a line across the page. Underneath, she wrote what saying “no” had made room for. Sometimes that was more time with her partner, or a chance to call her mother or extra time to write.

As she gathered more of these noes, she realized that skipped opportunities often came back and that the people she was afraid to disappoint were OK. “It was not only my right but also my responsibility to draw my own boundaries, rather than expect another person to draw them for me,” she wrote.