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FAO Appeals for More Funds To Fight Locusts, as Pledges Are Nowhere Near Sufficient

Feb. 26, 2020 (EIRNS)—On Jan. 20, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization appealed for $76 million to deal with the locust crisis. It has since had to raise that figure to $138 million, but as of Feb. 25, reported Stephane Dujarric, $33 million has been pledged.

A joint statement yesterday by Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); Mark Lowcock, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator; and David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program, described the scourge in East Africa as “a graphic and shocking reminder of this region’s vulnerability. This is a scourge of biblical proportions. Yet as ancient as this scourge is, its scale today is unprecedented in modern times....

“Since FAO launched its first appeal to help what was then three affected countries, the locust swarms have moved rapidly across vast distances and the full extent of their massive scale has become clear. Since our last op-ed pleading for action on Feb. 12, swarms have been sighted in Djibouti, Eritrea, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania. Each day, more countries are affected. Last week, a swarm crossed into one of Africa’s most food-insecure and fragile countries, South Sudan. Just this week, it was confirmed that one swarm reached the eastern boundaries of the Democratic Republic of the Congo—a country that has not seen a locust incursion since 1944.”

The FAO has told EIR that in three of the worst-affected countries, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, it estimates that at least 100,000 hectares in each country need to be sprayed with insecticide. As of this writing, only about 50,000 hectares out of a total 300,000 have been sprayed.

The Feb. 24 FAO’s Desert Locust update reports immature swarms in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the southwest coast of Iran.

The release concludes, “It is time for the international community to act more decisively. The math is clear, as is our moral obligation. Pay a little now, or pay a lot more later.”

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