Famine may already be happening in northern Gaza, and it risks spreading across the besieged enclave, plunging 2.2 million Palestinians into the broadest and most severe food crisis in the world, the globe’s leading body on food emergencies said Monday.

The new report from a cluster of international organizations and charities known as the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification initiative, or IPC, outlined a devastating situation with up to half the population of Gaza — 1.1 million people — facing catastrophic levels of hunger and starvation between now and July. The most immediately affected areas are in the northern regions, which Israeli forces cut off from the enclave’s southern half and which only a trickle of aid has been able to enter.

Compared with the IPC’s previous analysis in December, acute food insecurity in the Gaza Strip has deepened and widened, with nearly twice as many people projected to suffer those conditions by July. The most dire projection is based on an escalation of the conflict, including a ground offensive in Rafah.

In the IPC’s five-tier classification of food crises, Gaza now has the largest percentage of a population to receive its most severe rating since the body began reporting in 2004, Beth Bechdol, deputy director general at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told The Washington Post.

By comparison, today in Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan — where millions are suffering crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity — none of the population falls into the worst tier of catastrophic food shortages, Bechdol said.

People in areas designated at Phase 5 are considered to be “starving” and facing a significantly increased risk of acute malnutrition and death.

So, for Gaza to have 1.1 million people in IPC 5 is unprecedented,” she said. She added: “This is 100 percent a man-made crisis. There’s no hurricane, there’s no cyclone, there’s no 100-year flood. There’s no protracted year-on-year drought.”

The report is likely to add fuel to the increasingly sharp criticism of Israel from governments in the United States and Europe about the grim dimensions of the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza. On Monday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, repeated his assertion that Israel was using starvation as a “weapon of war.” He noted that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had recently told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “we cannot stand by and watch Palestinians starve.”

“In Gaza we are no longer on the brink of famine; we are in a state of famine, affecting thousands of people,” Borrell said at the start of a conference on humanitarian aid for Gaza in Brussels. “This is unacceptable. Starvation is used as a weapon of war.”

Moamen al-Harthani, a 29-year-old resident of the northern Gaza town of Jabalya, described how people in the north were eating weeds and other plants to survive.

“There is no rice, no sugar, no beans, no lentils. … No fruit or vegetables,” Harthani said. “People eat the food of animals and livestock,” he said. Unable to find or afford flour, Harthani makes a bread-like substitute out of animal feed.