Disasters & Accidents

Africa locust plague threatens 5 million people

Nairobi, Jun 4 (efe-epa).- Almost five million people are at risk of starvation as a fourth plague of desert locusts devastates crops in east Africa, the International Rescue Committee warned on Thursday.

The new invasion of these swarming insects is the most serious outbreak seen in the region in 70 years, IRC said in a statement.

Food supplies have already been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which is also hindering actions to tackle the locust problem, the organization added.

The plague hit East Africa a year ago and has wiped out hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops in at least eight countries.

The new hatching could generate swarms up to 8,000 times larger than the one that occurred earlier this year.

Barri Shorey, senior director of economic recovery for the IRC, said in a statement: “The desert locust is the world’s most dangerous migratory pest.

“A one-square-kilometer locust swarm is capable of consuming the same amount of food in one day as approximately 35,000 people.

“The worst outbreak in 70 years is combined with a year of drought and flooding, and now a COVID-19 pandemic preventing people from working and farming poses an unprecedented risk to food security.”

He added: “Without an immediate increase of prevention measures, we could be on the verge of a famine like we have never seen before.”

Somalia has been hit the hardest by the swarm after suffering from droughts in 2017 and 2019, massive flooding since then and the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Without immediate help, 3.5 million people will be at risk of hunger or starvation in the country, the IRC has warned.

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