Locust swarms reported in 9 African countries, Persian Gulf

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Photo taken on Feb. 4, 2020 shows a cloud of locusts flying in Mwingi North, Kenya. A number of East African countries are suffering serious locust infestation, with Kenya experiencing its worst in 70 years, which, if left unchecked, could grow 500 times in scale by June, a UN spokesman said Friday. Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said besides Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are undergoing their worst locust infestation in 25 years, and that Djibouti, Eritrea, Uganda and Tanzania are also experiencing swarm activity and locust breeding, while the risk of spread to South Sudan is high. (Xinhua/Fred Mutune)

Locust swarms are spreading throughout east Africa into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Persian Gulf, a UN spokesman said on Thursday.

Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda have been affected, with one small swarm reaching the DRC, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. There has also been significant swarm movement in the Persian Gulf.

“Hundreds of thousands of hectares, including cropland and pasture, have already been affected by the ongoing widespread breeding,” Dujarric said.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warns that immature swarms — the most voracious stage of locust development — will emerge at the start of the upcoming rainy season, which is the most important planting season for some of the worst affected and at-risk countries in East Africa.

An extended response, including early support from governments and humanitarian partners to affected farmers and pastoralists, will be necessary to meet their immediate needs and enable them to quickly resume their livelihoods, OCHA said.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has increased its funding appeal to 138 million U.S. dollars to cover expanded needs and additional countries, for which only 52 million U.S. dollars have been pledged so far. Enditem

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