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Plague of locusts ‘on way’

Devastation: Locusts in Somalia PICTURE: AP

A HUGE swarm of 360billion locusts is sweeping across the Horn of Africa threatening the continent’s first full-blown ‘plague’ since 1989.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned of an emerging humanitarian crisis, with crops already decimated in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. The swarm is now heading into Uganda.

The current invasion of desert locusts is known as an ‘upsurge’ — when an entire region is affected. It will become a ‘plague’ if it cannot be contained.

A million locusts can eat enough food for 35,000 people in a day, and there are fears the swarm could be 500 times bigger by June.

It has already been declared the worst to hit Kenya in 70 years, and the worst to affect Ethiopia and Somalia since 1995. FAO director-general Qu Dongyu has called for urgent funding to tackle the crisis. In a briefing last month, he said: ‘I hope we can work hard day and night so people do not lose their crops. Timing and location is crucial.’

His deputy Maria Semedo said countries needed to act ‘immediately’ because ‘locusts don’t wait — they will come and they will destroy’.