United Nations warns of 'major shock' as Africa locust outbreak spreads

UN Urges Global Community to Act Fast to Combat East African Locust Outbreak

UN warns of potential 'catastrophe' for Africa if locust outbreak not contained

In Kenya, which has seen the worst locust infestation in 70 years, swarms 60 km long and 40 km wide have invaded the country's northern countries, according to FAO.

Al-Shabaab's control of some locust breeding grounds in Somalia is said to have made aerial spraying there virtually impossible.

The UN has warned against the locusts and insisted the risk to crop production and food security will put millions of lives at risk.

"Unless we get a grip of this in the next two or three or four weeks, we're going to have a really, really serious problem", he noted. The locusts destroy food and pasture in the region, and it has been hard to determine the extent of the damage as new swarms spread across borders every day.

The video emerged as United Nations officials warned the global community that immediate action was required to stop a humanitarian catastrophe.

The insects can spread fast, and other countries are now at risk.

An official from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization demonstrates software used to record and track the location and movements of locusts using Global Positioning System in the desert near Garowe, in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia. Cressman further stated that if the locusts are not treated by control measures, they can grow 400 times larger by June 2020.

"The response today is not gonna work, unless there's a big scale-up", Lowcock said.

One of the swarms - which can number up to 80 million individuals per square kilometre - has been spotted flying 50km from the border with South Sudan, and is expected to reach the country "any day".

While a total of $76 million has been requested by the United Nations, only about $20 million has been offered so far for relief efforts.

FAO director-general Qu Dongyu warned in a video message: 'Without rapid action, we will be facing a rapidly expanding humanitarian crisis.

The UN has asked for $76 million USA in immediate aid.

Africa's last major locust plague swept through the region in 1987 to 89. The U.N. has said it will begin testing drones equipped with mapping sensors and atomizers to spray pesticides, Reuters reported. That makes it hard or impossible to conduct aerial spraying to kill the insects.

As per a desert locust expert, after Cyclone Mekunu in 2018 summers hit the middle east, rainwater was collected in parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock spoke to African ambassadors during a briefing at UN Headquarters on the severity of the issue earlier this week.

Somalia has already declared a state of emergency due to the damaging loss of vital crops which the insects have munched their way through.

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